Information for Patients
Diabetes means your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. If you can't control your diabetes with wise food choices and physical activity, you may need diabetes medicines. The kind of medicine you take depends on your type of diabetes, your schedule, and your other health conditions.
With type 1 diabetes, your pancreas does not make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get into your cells to give them energy. Without insulin, too much glucose stays in your blood. If you have type 1 diabetes, you will need to take insulin.
Type 2 diabetes, the most common type, can start when the body doesn't use insulin as it should. If your body can't keep up with the need for insulin, you may need to take pills. Along with meal planning and physical activity, diabetes pills help people with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes keep their blood glucose levels on target. Several kinds of pills are available. Each works in a different way. Many people take two or three kinds of pills. Some people take combination pills. Combination pills contain two kinds of diabetes medicine in one tablet. Some people take pills and insulin.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Medicines treat infectious diseases, prevent problems from chronic diseases, and ease pain. But medicines can also cause harmful reactions if not used correctly. Errors can happen in the hospital, at the health care provider's office, at the pharmacy, or at home. You can help prevent errors by
- Knowing your medicines. When you get a prescription, ask the name of the medicine and check to make sure that the pharmacy gave you the right medicine. Make sure that you understand how often you should take the medicine and how long you should take it.
- Keeping a list of medicines.
- Write down all of the medicines that you are taking, including the names of your medicines, how much you take, and when you take them. Make sure to include any over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbs that you take.
- List the medicines that you are allergic to or that have caused you problems in the past.
- Take this list with you every time you see a health care provider.
- Reading medicine labels and following the directions. Don't just rely on your memory - read the medication label every time. Be especially careful when giving medicines to children.
- Asking questions. If you don't know the answers to these questions, ask your health care provider or pharmacist:
- Why am I taking this medicine?
- What are the common side effects?
- What should I do if I have side effects?
- When should I stop this medicine?
- Can I take this medicine with the other medicines and supplements on my list?
- Do I need to avoid certain foods or alcohol while taking this medicine?
Food and Drug Administration