Treating Type 2 Diabetes Your Way

Diabetes is a common chronic disease where glucose levels in the blood are too high. The body’s insulin levels cannot process the excess sugar, or in some cases, the body cannot produce insulin at all. This condition causes several symptoms, complications, and a shorter lifespan. About 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes, and many require injectable insulin to manage the condition. However, some doctors or patients opt to switch from insulin to oral hypoglycemic medication. Switching to oral pills is no small task, as patients must consider multiple factors for a smooth transition.

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Why change medicines?

Oral medicine is a good option for type 2 diabetic patients who still produce some insulin naturally. At this stage, diet and exercise are insufficient to manage the condition. Oral drugs may stimulate more insulin production, reducing the symptoms and complications of diabetes. Some patients will prefer oral medications for convenience, ease of use, or to avoid side effects like excess weight gain, hypoglycemia, or heart disease. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant may also benefit from switching to this oral medication. A doctor must approve this change and provide a transition plan and the recommended dosage.

Which oral medication should you choose?

There are several oral hypoglycemic options available. Some standard options include thiazolidinediones, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (AGIs), and biguanides. These drugs impact the body differently to increase or adjust insulin production. The doctor must choose the appropriate medicine based on the patient’s current health, pre-existing conditions, and needs. The change may also be gradual. The patient may use insulin periodically until the full changeover is complete.

Trusting the process

Patients should follow the instructions of the doctor or pharmacist. These experts will outline the steps to take and allow patients to ask essential questions. For instance, some patients will need details on when the medication will start to work and any potential side effects. The doctor may also advise on any foods or drinks that should be avoided while on this treatment. If the medication stops working, as glucose levels indicate, see a doctor immediately. Another drug may be added to the therapy, or this could be a sign that the disease has progressed.

Make the switch

Diabetes can be managed with the proper diet, exercise, and medication. Taking insulin can help patients have a better quality of life. For some, oral hypoglycemic medication may be a better option. Patients on oral treatment should be monitored for heart failure, rapid weight gain, or signs of hypoglycemia during the first year. Make sure to watch blood sugar more often than usual to see if the medicine is taking effect. Switching to oral medications can take time, but the results can benefit the patient in the long run.