Medicines for Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes Type 2 Diabetes What are the types of diabetes pills Sulfonylureas Biguanides Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors Thiazolidinediones Meglitinides Combining medicines How do I know if my diabetes medicines are working

Type 1 Diabetes

All people with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin because their bodies do not make enough insulin. Insulin helps turn sugar from food into energy for the body to work.


Most people make insulin in their pancreas. If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. Insulin helps sugar from the foods you eat get to all parts of your body and be used for energy.

Because your body no longer makes insulin, you need to take insulin in shots.

How often should I take insulin?

Most people with diabetes need at least two insulin shots a day for good blood sugar control. Some people take three or four shots a day to have a more flexible diabetes plan.

You should take insulin 30 minutes before a meal if you take regular insulin alone or with a longer-acting insulin. If you take insulin lispro (Humalog), an insulin that works very quickly, you should take your shot just before you eat.

Different types of insulin

The five types of insulin are:

Quick acting, insulin lispro (Humalog)

Short acting, Regular (R) insulin

Intermediate acting, NPH (N) or Lente (L) insulin

Long acting, Ultralente (U) insulin

NPH and Regular insulin mixture

Two types of insulin mixed together in one bottle.

Does insulin work the same all the time?

After a short time, you will get to know when your insulin starts to work, when it works its hardest to lower blood sugar, and when it finishes working. You will learn to match your mealtimes and exercise times to the time when each insulin you take works in your body.

How quickly or slowly insulin works in your body depends on

Where on my body should I inject insulin?

You can inject insulin into several places on your body. Insulin injected near the stomach works fastest. Insulin injected into the thigh works slowest. Insulin injected into the arm works at medium speed. Ask your doctor or diabetes teacher to show you the right way to take insulin and in which parts of the body to inject it.

How should I store insulin?

Keep the bottles of insulin you are using at room temperature.

If you use a whole bottle of insulin within 30 days, keep that bottle of insulin at room temperature. On the label, write the date that is 30 days away. That is when you should throw out the bottle with any insulin left in it.

If you do not use a whole bottle of insulin within 30 days, then store it in the refrigerator all the time.

If insulin gets too hot or cold it breaks down and does not work. So do not keep insulin in very cold places such as the freezer or in hot places such as by a window or in the car's glove compartment during warm weather.

Keep at least one extra bottle of each type of insulin you use in your house. Store extra insulin in the refrigerator.

What Are Possible Side Effects of Insulin?

Type 2 diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas usually makes plenty of insulin. But your body cannot correctly use the insulin you make. You might get this type of diabetes if members of your family have or had diabetes. You might also get type 2 diabetes if you weigh too much or do not exercise enough.

After you have had type 2 diabetes for a few years, your body may stop making enough insulin. Then you will need to take diabetes pills or insulin.

Healthy eating may help you lower your blood sugar. Exercise and losing weight may also be of help.

If these treatments do not work, you may need one or more types of diabetes pills to lower your blood sugar. After a few more years, you may need to take insulin shots because your body is not making enough insulin.

You, your doctor, and your diabetes teacher should always find the best diabetes plan for you.

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