How Anti-diabetic Medication Works

The body takes energy in the form of glucose which is made from the breakdown of starch and other sugars in the intestine. From here a hormone known as insulin helps body tissue to take up the glucose from the blood, this done it is then either used straight away as energy, or is stored for later use.

In diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) the part of the body that produces the insulin is called the pancreas. If this particular body part is unable to function correctly, there is a reduced uptake of glucose by the body tissues which means there would be an abnormal rise of glucose in the blood. When this happens it is known medically as hyperglycaemia (elevated blood glucose),. There are two main types of diabetes mellitus most people refer to these as Type 1 or Type 2.

Type 1 (Insulin-dependent Diabetes)

Type 1 is known as Insulin-dependent Diabetes. This particular form usually appears in young people, and is usually known as juvenile diabetes or early-onset diabetes because it usually appears before the age of 40. The cells that secret the insulin are being slowly destroyed. This is because the body recognizes the pancreas as foreign (an autoimmune condition) or a childhood viral infection would be the likely cause.

Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes would include weight loss, lethargy, extreme thirst and increased peeing (urination). If this particular form of diabetes is left untreated it becomes fatal. In Type 1 diabetes there is no other options, taking insulin is the only treatment and is life long.

Type 2 (Non-insulin dependent diabetes)

Non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or Type 2 is also recognized as maturity-onset diabetes, this type usually appears in older people from around 40 years of age onward. Because of how gradual this form of diabetes takes to show its self diagnoses is often delayed for some years.

With this type of diabetes there is usually a high insulin blood count, but because the cells of the body are resistant to the effects of the insulin there is a reduced uptake of glucose despite the high level of insulin. This also results in hyperglycemia.

Both types of diabetes would need life changing eating habits which could consist of a low fat, high fibre both low simple sugar (sweets and cakes) and a high complex sugar (pasta, rice, potatoes) intake.

If you are type 2 then a reduction in weight might be all it takes to bring down the body’s energy requirements, restoring blood glucose levels back to normal. I am truly aware that many individuals try many different avenues to loose weight and often come up with little or no weight reduction which upsets and demoralizes them, making it twice as difficult to continue with their loose weight program. There are others who have medical conditions that make weight loss impossible, so to these individuals and those who try and fail, I apologize for my next comments, but it is a proven fact that being overweight (obesity) is the biggest cause of Type 2 diabetes. (Other form of diabetes)

If a diet change fails to lower glucose levels then you will be given an oral anti-diabetic medication such as acarbose, metformin or sulphonylureas drugs (see below). These drugs work by stimulating the islet cells into releasing increased amounts of insulin. If these measures fail then insulin may need to be given to individuals with Type 2 diabetes, this may also apply to pregnant women who suffer severe illness.

Pregnancy and Diabetes (gestational diabetes)

As mentioned it is possible to contract diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance in pregnancy this condition is called gestational diabetes and is most likely to occur in the last trimester of pregnancy. Because of the extra demands placed on the body during pregnancy, some women have high levels of glucose in their blood due to the pancreas not being able to output enough insulin due to the extra demands during pregnancy. This type of diabetes will usually dissipate within a few weeks of giving birth. However, if you do suffer this type of diabetes during pregnancy you are at greater risk of the problem reappearing at a later stage in life.

There are about 2 million people in the UK who are known to have diabetes – and possibly another 750,000 people who may have the condition but don’t know it. Type 2 diabetes is the commonest form, affecting about 85 percent of all people who have the disease.

Listed below a number of the most common medications used to treat diabets. Highlighted medication will open in a new window.

Sulphonylurea Medication Other Medication
Chlorpropamide Acarbose
Glibenclamide Glucagon
Gliclazide Insulin
Gliquidone Insulin Lispro
Glipizide Metformin
Tolbutamide Nateglinide
Glimepiride Pioglitazone
—- Repaglinide
—- Rosiglitazone
Highlighted medication will open in a new window.