6. Diabetes Medications

The first way to treat type 2 diabetes is often meal planning, weight loss, and exercise. Often these steps are not enough to bring your ABCs to a healthy range. The next step is taking medication.

Your doctor will decide which medication is right for you.

This depends on:

  • Your lifestyle
  • Physical condition
  • How you respond to the medicine
  • Insurance coverage

There are different types, or classes, of drugs that work in different ways to lower blood glucose.

Oral combination therapy

Because the drugs listed on the right act in different ways to lower blood glucose levels, they may be used together. For example, a biguanide and a sulfonylurea may be used together. Many combinations are combined into a single pill for convenience.

Other injected medications

In addition to pills and insulin, some medications for controlling your blood glucose are injected.


There are different types of insulin that vary in how quickly they lower blood glucose levels. Some work very quickly and are taken with meals. Others are long-acting and are used just once or twice a day.

What if my blood glucose stays too high?

If your blood glucose levels remain too high, your medication may need to be adjusted. Do not adjust your medication on your own. Talk to your doctor about possible changes.

Diabetes and pregnancy

If you’re pregnant, talk with your health care provider about what medications are right for you.

Important note:

The generic names and brand names are shown to help you know what you take. The American Diabetes Association does not recommend or endorse any specific medication.

You might take a medication that is not on this list. Your healthcare team is your best source of information. Talk to them about all the medications you take. Never stop taking a medication or change your dose without talking with your doctor.


If you are at high risk for or if you have heart disease, taking a low dose aspirin every day may help. Aspirin can also help people who have had a heart attack or stroke. Ask your doctor whether you should take aspirin.

Blood pressure medications

Not everyone takes the same blood pressure medicine. Many people take two or more medications. The ones you take will depend on your blood pressure numbers and other factors.

Cholesterol medications

Most adults with diabetes who are 40 years or older should be taking a statin. Statins help lower LDL levels and reduce your risk for heart attack or stroke.

There are other medicines that improve cholesterol. Ask your doctor about whether you should take a statin or other drug to lower your risk for heart attack or stroke.

Although previously recommended for lipid control, we no longer recommend the use of niacin.

Content courtesy of the American Diabetes Association.

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