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HealthSheets™

Taking Medicine for Diabetes

Outline of human figure showing locations where diabetes medicatinos work.

Medicines can’t cure diabetes. But they can delay or prevent health complications by helping you manage your blood sugar. Taking medicines every day, especially shots, may seem overwhelming. But they are powerful tools you can use to stay in control of your health.

Where the medicines work

Diabetes medicines act on different parts of the body. Many of them affect how the pancreas makes insulin. Others increase how sensitive muscle and fat cells are to insulin. Or they keep the liver from releasing too much glucose. And some cause carbohydrates to break down more slowly. The diagram on this sheet shows where each class of medicine works in the body.

Getting familiar with shots

Some medicine, including insulin, can’t be swallowed. They are usually injected through the skin to reach the bloodstream. It’s not hard to learn how to give yourself shots. You may find that they aren’t as bad as you fear. And there are new devices for injecting or inhaling insulin that may be available to you. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.

Sticking to your medicine routine

Taking your medicines at the right times will give you the best control over your blood sugar. Like a meal routine, a medicine routine can help keep your blood sugar steady. Keep track of medicines with a pill organizer and a daily schedule. Ask your family to help you stick to a medicine routine. And don’t get distracted. Make it a priority.

If you take other medicines

Medicines of all types can affect blood sugar. This includes over-the-counter medicines and those prescribed for other health problems. Make sure you tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including herbs and vitamins. And always remember to tell the pharmacist that you have diabetes when buying other medicines.

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.