Medication and Type 2 Diabetes

Friday, 5 July 2019

Medications to treat diabetes are dependent on the individual. Making lifestyle changes, such as adjusting your diet and participating in more exercise, may help you manage your blood glucose levels at first, but may not be enough in the long term. Eventually you might need to take medication (tablets) to help keep your blood glucose levels in the target range. If insulin is required, it is important to understand that this is just the natural progression of the condition.

There is no one medication to suit all

There are different classes of medications and you need to speak with your health care team to find out which medication is most appropriate for you, when to take your tablets and how much to take. Your doctor might combine medications from different classes to help you manage your blood glucose in several different ways. Your doctor can also tell you about any possible side effects. You should speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you experience any problems.

Most type 2 diabetes medications are in the form of tablets, but some are given by injection (not insulin). Tablets or injections are intended to be used in conjunction with healthy eating and regular physical activity, not as a substitute.

Type 2 diabetes is progressive

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition and as the beta cells in the pancreas become worn out less insulin is produced. When a person with diabetes is no longer making enough of their own insulin, they will need insulin treatment to manage their blood glucose levels, sometimes with tablets as well. This can happen quite quickly but more often occurs in about 50% of people within 10 years of being diagnosed.

Regular blood glucose monitoring is essential for people who live with diabetes. You may need to check more often when you start a new medication or if there is any change in your diet or activity affecting your blood glucose levels. This will keep you safe and ensure the medication is having the desired effect.

What are generic medications?

Some people get confused between generic and original medications. The generic medication contains the same active ingredient(s) as the brand name but generics may include different inactive ingredients such as preservatives or fillers.

What to do when you forget to take a medication?

If you forget to take your tablets, you’re far from alone. It happens, but it can be quite worrying if you’re then in a position where you perhaps risk missing out on a dose or risk taking a double dose. The question is should you take them now or wait until the next dose?

The answer depends on the type of tablets you have. Some tablets may allow you to take a missed dose as soon as you remember, but for other tablets it may be advised to wait until your next dose. You should speak with your GP or pharmacist for more information.

To help you remember you might like to find a pharmacist that will pack your medications in a Webster Pak (you can ask to have the instructions translated into most spoken languages other than English). Or you could try setting an alarm on your phone or asking a family member or a friend to remind you.

Home Medicines Review

A Home Medicines Review (HMR) is a comprehensive clinical review of your medications. It is completed in your home by an accredited pharmacist on referral from your GP. You can choose to be referred to your usual community pharmacy or an accredited pharmacist who meets your needs. It helps improve your knowledge and understanding about medications and possible medication interactions.


Although manufacturers recommend storing insulin in the refrigerator, injecting cold insulin can sometimes make the injection more painful. To avoid this store the insulin you are using at room temperature and keep the unused insulin in the fridge. Insulin kept at room temperature will last approximately one month.

Final tips

It’s advisable to keep a list of all your medications in your wallet. It may help when you see a new GP or if you are admitted to hospital.

Finally, check the expiration date before using your medication and don’t use any medication beyond its expiration date. Store your tablets at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

For more information and support visit the NDSS or call 1300 136 588

Me is all about what you need to do for yourself, managing your diabetes and doing what you can.
Keywords: diabetesmedication

Join our community of over 45,000 people living with diabetes