Taking insulin or other diabetes medicines is often part of treating diabetes, and medicine can help you manage the disease. Some other treatment options are also available.
If you have type 2-diabetes, your body can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood sugar levels normal, and the goal of treatment for you is to help your body use your insulin better or to get rid of extra sugar in your blood.
Most medications for type-2 diabetes are oral pills, but a few come as injections. Some people with type-2 diabetes may need to take insulin.
These medications help your body break down starchy foods and table sugar, lowering your blood sugar levels as a result.
For the best results, you should take these drugs before meals, and such drugs include:
- acarbose (Precose)
- miglitol (Glyset)
Biguanides decrease how much sugar your liver makes, and decrease how much sugar your intestines absorb, making your body more sensitive to insulin, and helping your muscles absorb glucose.
The most common biguanide is metformin (Glucophage, Metformin Hydrochloride ER, Glumetza, Riomet, Fortamet), which can also be combined with other drugs for type-2 diabetes.
Other Treatment Options For Diabetes
When medicines and lifestyle changes are not enough to control your diabetes, a less common treatment may be an option. Such treatments options include:
- Bariatric surgery for certain people with type 1 or type-2 diabetes, and
- An “artificial pancreas” and
- Pancreatic islet transplantation for some people with type-1 diabetes.
Also known as weight-loss surgery or metabolic surgery, bariatric surgery may help some people with obesity and type-2 diabetes lose a large amount of weight and regain normal blood glucose levels.
Some people with diabetes may no longer need their diabetes medicine after bariatric surgery. Blood glucose levels improvement seems to vary by the patient, type of weight-loss surgery, amount of weight the person loses and whether or not the person uses insulin.
Recent research suggests that weight-loss surgery also may help improve blood glucose control in people with type-1 diabetes who are obese, and researchers are studying the long-term results of bariatric surgery in people with type-1 and type-2 diabetes.
The artificial pancreas” technology has been developed. An artificial pancreas replaces manual blood glucose testing and the use of insulin shots or a pump to control sugar levels.
A single system monitors blood glucose levels around the clock and provides insulin or a combination of insulin and glucagon, automatically.
The system can also be monitored remotely by parents or medical staff. In 2016, the FDA approved a type of artificial pancreas system called a hybrid closed-loop system, that tests your glucose level every 5 minutes throughout the day and night, and automatically gives you the right amount of insulin, required to balance it.
Even though you may still need to manually adjust the amount of insulin the pump delivers at mealtimes, the artificial pancreas frees you from some of the daily tasks needed to keep your blood glucose stable.
It helps you sleep through the night without the need to wake and test your glucose or take medicine.
The hybrid closed-loop system should be available in the U.S. Talk with your doctor or health care provider about whether this system might be right for you.
The NIDDK has funded several important studies on different types of artificial pancreas devices to better help people with diabetes manage their disease. The devices may also help people with gestational diabetes.
Pancreatic Islet Transplantation
Pancreatic islet transplantation is an experimental treatment for poorly controlled type-1 diabetes. Pancreatic islets are clusters of cells in the pancreas that help make the hormone insulin.
In type-1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks these cells, and kills them, but a pancreatic islet transplant replaces destroyed islets with new ones that make and release insulin.
This procedure takes islets from the pancreas of an organ donor and transfers them to a person with type-1 diabetes. However, researchers are still studying pancreatic islet transplantation, and the procedure is only available to people enrolled in research studies.