Womens Health

Diabetes Pills For Type 2 Diabetes

When someone is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the first line of treatment is learning to plan meals, lose excess weight, and begin a regular exercise routine. But sometimes these lifestyle changes aren't enough to tame blood glucose levels and bring them into the normal range. In that case, doctors will often prescribe medication that can lower blood glucose levels.

Diabetes pills sold in the United States can be classified into six groups that each work through a different method to lower levels of blood glucose:





*Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

*DPP-4 inhibitors

This article treats the final three classes of the oral diabetes drugs: thiazolidinediones, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, and DPP-4 inhibitors.


Avandia (rosiglitazone) and ACTOS (pioglitazone) belong to the group of medications known as thiazolidinediones. These medications improve the way insulin works within the fat and muscles and also reduces the production of glucose by the liver. The first drug of this class to be manufactured, Rezulin (troglitazone), was taken off the market since it caused liver complications for some people. Neither rosiglitazone nor pioglitazone have been found to cause liver problems but those taking these medications will be watched for liver problems just to be on the safe side. These drugs do seem to raise the risk for heart failure in some people and rosiglitazone may be responsible for a higher rate of heart attacks in some patients. Still, both of these drugs are good at bringing down A1C and don't have many side effects.

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

In the alpha-glucosidase inhibitor class of drugs are Precose (acarbose) and Glyset (meglitol). These drugs serve to lower blood glucose levels through blocking the digestive tract's ability to break down edible starches. The drugs may also slow the process by which sugars are broken down. As a result, the medication can slow down the elevation of blood glucose levels that occurs after eating. These pills should be taken at the beginning of meals and may have some unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea or gas.

DPP-4 Inhibitors

The newest class of diabetes pills improves A1C without inducing hypoglycemia. DPP-4 inhibitors work by blocking the breakdown of GLP-1 inside the body. GLP-1 is a substance the body produces on its own and can bring down blood glucose levels when they are high. The problem is that it breaks down at a fast pace and is therefore inefficient when administered as an injectable drug. DPP-4 inhibitors keep GLP-1 working longer. DPP-4 inhibitors may even lower your cholesterol levels. Januvia (sitagliptin) and Onglyza (saxagliptin) are the current DPP-4 inhibitors that are available.

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