Long-acting insulins include glargine and detemir, while ultra long-acting insulin includes glargine U-300 (units) and degludec U-100 and U-200.
For convenience, some insulins are mixed together to reduce the number of injections per day. In addition, you are less likely to forget to take your doses on time. Compatible insulins can be mixed within the same syringe or purchased premixed. These premixed pens or cartridges usually contain rapid-acting and intermediate-acting insulin. Both insulins will work the same way they would have if injected separately. Ask your doctor about mixing and premixed insulin before trying them yourself.
Each type of insulin has its unique benefits and should be prescribed to tailor-fit a patient’s needs. This is also one reason why you should never share insulin with another person, even if they are also diabetic.
Get to know your diabetes drugs for Type 2 DM
Now that you have learned about insulin, the main drug for type 1 DM, it’s time to get to know your diabetes drugs for type 2 DM. You will notice that there are many options and approaches to treating type 2 diabetes. Insulin is sometimes used but generally, it is not prescribed unless other treatments aren’t working.
Even if you don’t know your newer diabetes drugs, metformin is a classic and well-known drug. It is the first-line treatment for diabetes and prediabetes along with diet and lifestyle modifications.
Benefits of metformin include:
- Improving insulin sensitivity
- May promote weight loss
- Lower blood sugar
- Less risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
However, like all medications, it still may have side effects. The most notable are GI upset, metallic taste, nausea, diarrhea, and sensitivity reactions. These usually go away after you get used to your dose. Rarely can taking too much metformin cause lactic acidosis which requires hospitalization. It shouldn’t be given to patients with certain heart conditions, liver disease, or alcoholism.
Next up on the list are the sulfonylureas. These include drugs like glimepiride, glipizide, and glyburide.
They work by stimulating the release of insulin from the pancreas and improve insulin sensitivity. Similar to metformin, these drugs are relatively affordable. They can be prescribed together with metformin. Notable side effects include weight gain, rash, and low blood sugar.
Nateglinide and repaglinide are two drugs in this class. These work by quickly stimulating the release of insulin. When getting to know your diabetes drugs, it is also important to know what to avoid while taking them. Don’t drink alcohol while taking meglitinides because this increases the risk of nausea and vomiting.
Drugs in this category are rosiglitazone and pioglitazone. These drugs work to improve sensitivity to insulin and reduce the release of glucose (sugar) from the liver. If you also have problems with your cholesterol, these medications help increase HDL or good cholesterol.
Side effects may include weight gain, heart problems, secondary osteoporosis, and an increased risk of bladder cancer.
Now, it’s time to know your diabetes drugs that do something different. Unlike the previously mentioned drugs, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors prevent the breakdown of certain carbohydrates (sugars and starches). By doing so, there is less glucose in the blood. Drugs in this class are acarbose and miglitol.
Compared to other diabetes drugs, weight gain and hypoglycemia are not common side effects when taken alone. However, GI distress, bloating, and diarrhea are possible side effects.
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