Need To Know: Medicine for Diabetes

Woman sits and organizes her medication at a kitchen table

Being diagnosed with diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2, can be shocking. However, knowing your medications and how to take them properly is very important to maintaining good health and live well with diabetes.

According to the Office of Minority Health, approximately 13.2 percent of Latinos over the age of 18 had been diagnosed with diabetes in 2010. For Latinos, who are being disproportionately affected by this epidemic, it is of utmost importance to understand the steps to take in order to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you will be immediately started on insulin therapy. In addition, you may take other medications along with the insulin you are being prescribed.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you might be prescribed a non-insulin diabetes medication and may, down the road, start taking insulin as well.

Upon seeing your doctor, he or she will decide what medication is best for you. Be open about your worries and fears, questions and comments. Also, remember to tell your doctor about any other medications you may be taking. Anything from over the counter medicine to cough drops are important to tell your doctor about.

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Remember For All Medications 

Take the same dosage of your medication at the same time every day unless otherwise directed by your doctor. 
Make sure you always have your medications with you wherever you are. You never know when you might need  them.
Keep information regarding your medication (what you are taking and how much) in your wallet. This may be important in the case of an emergency.

Type 2 Medications 

If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you may have to take one or more medications because they all work in different ways within the body. These medications can do a series of things to help your body work better like:

Slowing the production and release of glucose in the liver so that you need less insulin.
Stimulating the pancreas to release more insulin.
Increasing insulin sensitivity in fat and muscle tissue.
Delaying the breakdown of carbohydrates, like bread and tortillas, in the stomach and intestine, which helps slow the release of glucose into the blood stream after a meal.

Most of the medications for type 2 diabetes are taken by mouth, though some can be injected.

Please Note

Insulin helps glucose to enter your cells. Having to take insulin does NOT mean that you are worse off than someone else with diabetes who does not take insulin.

Ways to Deliver Insulin 

Insulin needs to be injected into the body and is done so via a syringe, insulin pen or an insulin pump. Your doctor or diabetic educator will inform you on which is best for you and teach you how to inject your insulin.

Things to Remember About Insulin Usage

DO NOT use insulin beyond the expiration date on the bottle.
Insulin impacts blood glucose levels depending on where it’s injected. If injected in the abdomen, it will work the fastest.
Try to inject insulin in the same area, but not in the same spot, every day. If you notice bruising, bubbles or any other malformations, switch to another area of the body.
Syringes should be disposed of immediately after use. If you do not have a hazardous waste box, as seen in doctor’s offices, using old laundry detergent bottles or bleach bottles work just as well. Once it is full, dispose of in the trash.