There are several different types of non-insulin medicine—some are taken orally and some are injectable—and it’s important to talk to your doctor about which one is right for you. It’s not uncommon for people with diabetes to take more than one type of treatment to help manage their blood sugar.
There are many types of OADs. They work in different ways to lower blood sugar.
Helps lower insulin resistance in the muscles and reduce the production of glucose
Sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 or SGLT2 inhibitors (dapagliflozin, empagliflozin, canagliflozin, ertugliflozin)
Help the kidneys get rid of extra sugar in the body through the urine
DPP-4 inhibitors (sitagliptin, saxagliptin, linagliptin, alogliptin)
Help prevent the breakdown of GLP-1, a hormone produced in the intestines
Thiazolidinediones or TZDs (pioglitazone, rosiglitazone)
Help improve the liver and muscle response to insulin, meaning more sugar leaves the blood and enters the muscles and fat (where it belongs)
Sulfonylureas (glimepiride, glyburide, glipizide)
Help the pancreas release more insulin
Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (acarbose, miglitol)
Slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates
GLP-1 receptor agonists (dulaglutide, semaglutide)
Tells the pancreas to release more insulin after you've eaten, tells the liver not to make so much sugar (by releasing glucose) at mealtimes, slows down movement of food leaving the stomach so after-meal blood sugar levels don't go as high
Since the different kinds of OADs help lower blood sugar in different ways, some may be used together. These options allow doctors to come up with treatment plans that meet individual needs.
A GLP-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA) is a non-insulin medicine that acts like the GLP-1 made in your body.
GLP-1, or glucagon-like peptide-1, is a hormone that works in different ways to help keep your blood sugar in balance.
GLP-1 works by:
Learn more about an injectable option for type 2 diabetes:
Another option your doctor may prescribe is an amylin agonist. This is an injectable drug that acts like a hormone produced by the pancreas. Amylin is a naturally occurring hormone that affects several different organ systems and works by slowing down the movement of food leaving the stomach and prompting an end to eating through the feeling of being full. Amylin also inhibits glucagon secretion.
The insulin that your body makes naturally is a hormone that is important for allowing cells to produce energy from food. Some people with type 2 diabetes may not be able to use their own insulin well. This is called insulin resistance. It may cause blood sugar levels to increase.
As diabetes changes over time, the body makes less insulin and can’t control blood sugar levels. For these people, insulin can be injected under the skin. This helps lower blood sugar levels back to their normal range.
Different insulin medicines work in different ways to replace the insulin you’re missing. They are grouped together based on:
It’s called “human” because the structure is identical to the insulin your body makes.
There are 3 types of human insulin:
Insulin analogs are human insulin with small changes made to the hormone so that it is absorbed faster or lasts longer in the body.
The 3 main types of insulin analogs are:
Here's how Anthony got real about eating healthy, being active, and listening to his doctor.
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