INSULIN: Non-Insulin Drug Therapy
What to do when insulin isn't prescribed
Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose without taking insulin, relying instead on a combination of diet, exercise and diabetes pills.
Pills for diabetes only work when the pancreas already produces some insulin. They help insulin production and enable the body to use that insulin more efficiently. The pills in use today fall into these main groups:
And combination oral pills
While all are meant to help control blood glucose levels, each functions differently and produces distinctive side effects. Caregivers should learn which side effects warrant medical attention. For instance, sulfonylureas can cause low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia) and biguanides can affect kidney function.
If the person you care for takes pills for diabetes, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases advises the following:
Follow the doctor's directions exactly.
Never change or discontinue medication without the doctor's say-so.
Because of possible drug interactions, make sure each physician is aware of all medications being taken, including vitamins and herbal supplements.
Ask if any food or beverages should be avoided.
If blood glucose levels are low for multiple consecutive days, call the doctor.
Remember, diabetes pills don't replace healthy eating and exercise.
Note: Depending on the pills' effectiveness, the doctor may prescribe a different pill, add more of the same pills, or prescribe insulin.