Type 2 Diabetes
what is diabetes
Learn about diabetes and the oral agents taken by people with Type 2 diabetes...
- TYPES OF ORAL AGENTS
- ORAL AGENTS & INSULIN REACTIONS (HYPOGLYCEMIA)
- EMERGENCY LOW BLOOD SUGAR KIT
- EAT YOUR MEALS ON TIME
- ORAL AGENTS AND DRUG INTERACTIONS
- ORAL AGENTS & ILLNESSES
- TAKING ORAL AGENTS
- ORAL AGENTS ARE JUST AS "SERIOUS" AS INSULIN
- ORAL AGENTS & ALCOHOL
- ORAL AGENTS & THE SUN
Many people with Type II diabetes can control their diabetes with oral agents, instead of insulin. Oral agents don't contain insulin, but you may hear people refer to them as "insulin pills". Since diabetes is associated with insulin people just assume the pills are the same as insulin. Type II diabetes is just as serious as Type I diabetes, even if you're "only" using oral medications, diet and exercise to help control your blood sugar levels.
TYPES OF ORAL AGENTS
There are a number of different oral agents. They accomplish different things. Some oral agents promote the release of insulin that already exists in the body's insulin reserves. Others increase the actual number of insulin receptors on muscle and fat cells so the available insulin is more effective. Other oral agents work on the liver and try to interfere with the liver's production of glucose in an attempt to keep the blood sugar levels down.
In general, Type II diabetics who can use oral agents to help control their diabetes have developed the diabetes after 40 years of age, within the last five years. Most likely, they have been unable to control their blood sugar levels after a three to four month try at using diet and exercise alone. These people usually don't require insulin, but the doctor can prescribe small doses of insulin to be taken along with the oral agents if it will help improve their diabetes control.
ORAL AGENTS & INSULIN REACTIONS (HYPOGLYCEMIA)
Oral agents can cause the blood to go low (hypoglycemia) the SAME as taking an insulin injection. In order to guard against low blood sugar reactions a person taking an oral agent has to be prepared. Once you experience a low blood sugar reactions try to remember the symptoms you get. Your body will try to tell you it's blood sugar is going low. These symptoms may include:
changes in vision
walking unsteady (loss of balance)
There are also people who will NOT have any symptoms of a low blood sugar reaction. These people will have to monitor their blood sugars meticulously in order to guard against an insulin reaction.
Please keep in mind there is only ONE way to know if your blood sugar is low. That is by testing your blood sugar with your blood glucose testing meter. You can't not just go by how you FEEL, since as mentioned earlier, there may be times when you don't feel ANY symptoms of having an insulin reaction (hypoglycemia). There may also be times when you have the symptoms but your blood sugar is fine. It is for this reason that you have to carry your blood glucose testing meter with you at ALL times. If in doubt, treat the reaction.
EMERGENCY LOW BLOOD SUGAR KIT
You should carry and "Emergency Low Blood Sugar Kit". Have some type of food with you at ALL times because you don't know when your blood sugar might go low. Small tubes of cake icing are good to carry around since they can easily fit into a pocket. Or you may want to by some of the commercially made glucose tablets or gels. You can also carry fruit juice, crackers, milk, etc...) Don't grab a diet drink since this doesn't contain any sugar and won't do anything to raise your blood sugar level. Make sure the foods you carry are foods you can get to quickly and easily if your blood sugar goes too low.
Keep your "Emergency Low Blood Sugar Kit" everywhere you will be. In the car, at home, at work, at your friend's homes, etc. If you get caught in a traffic jam and your blood sugar is going low that can lead to disastrous complications, including death.
EAT YOUR MEALS ON TIME
If you're taking oral agents you need to make sure you eat your meals on times. You can't skip a meal and expect to "catch up" later. The oral agents will be working in your body and you can experience a low blood sugar reaction.
If you experience frequent low blood sugar reactions be sure to tell your doctor. He/she may need to lower your dosage, or change it.
ORAL AGENTS AND DRUG INTERACTIONS
Oral agents can interact with a variety of drugs. It's important that you check with your doctor before you take any other medications, including over-the-counter medicines.
You need to be careful if you are taking any of these types of medications:
blood pressure medications (diuretics)
cough and cold remedies
asthma and allergy medications
Even aspirin may effect the control of your blood sugar if you are taking an oral agent. This list is not complete so be sure to check with your doctor.
ORAL AGENTS & ILLNESSES
If you have kidney and liver disease your should let your doctor know since these conditions can interfere with your body's ability to inactivate and excrete an oral anti diabetic drug.
Short term illnesses can also affect your blood sugar level if you're taking oral agents. Having a cold, the flu or severe infections can cause changes in your blood sugar levels. If this occurs your doctor may want you to use insulin temporarily to bring your blood sugar levels back down.
TAKING ORAL AGENTS
Doctors usually prescribe oral agents in low doses, at first. The doses are then increased based on your blood sugar levels or symptoms. Lower doses are usually taken once a day, preferably before breakfast. Higher doses are usually split up into two or three smaller doses which are taken during the day.
If you forget to take a dose of your oral agent don't double up on your medication. Doing this can cause your blood sugar to drop very low and you could experience a low blood sugar reaction. Be sure to ask your doctor what his advice is concerning what to do if you miss a dose of your oral agent.
ORAL AGENTS ARE JUST AS "SERIOUS" AS INSULIN
Just because you're taking a pill instead of injecting insulin you need to be just as careful. Don't equate the word "pill" with ease or less severity. You need to follow your doctor's diet and exercise advice. You shouldn't make any big changes in your diet or exercise routine unless you check with your doctor to see how it might affect your diabetes.)
If you haven't been checking your blood glucose levels regularly you HAVE to begin checking it regularly. You need to know if your blood sugar levels are going to high, just as much as you need to know if your blood sugar levels are going too low. High blood sugars may be an indication that you need to stay away from certain foods, or your medication dosage may need to be increased.
ORAL AGENTS & ALCOHOL
Alcoholic beverages can interact with oral agents, even in small quantities (1-1/3 ounce of 100 proof). If you drink when you are taking an oral agent you may experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches or notice flushing on your face or elsewhere.
A low blood sugar reaction can mimic drunkenness. If your blood sugar is low you need for people to know that you're having an insulin reaction and that you're NOT drunk. If they think you are "just drunk" they might not know that you need immediate help and attention. If your doctor says you can drink, be sure to drink only small quantities (one or two ounces a day or less). Drink slowly and always have some food along with the beverage. NEVER substitute an alcoholic beverage for food. It's also a good idea to check your blood glucose level after consuming an alcoholic beverage.
ORAL AGENTS & THE SUN
When you're taking oral agents you also need to watch out for the sun. Oral agents can cause your skin to become much more sensitive to sunlight. A brief exposure to the sun might cause a rash, itching, or redness and possibly a severe sunburn. It's a good idea to stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Wear protective clothing and use a sunblock lotion of at least SPF 15.
If you're taking an oral agent be sure to use them with care. They are a powerful tool to help you control your diabetes, but you need to be in constant consultation with your doctor.
To read more about Type 2 Diabetes click here