Drugs used in diabetes treat diabetes mellitus by lowering the glucose level in the blood. With the exceptions of insulin, exenatide, liraglutide and pramlintide, all are administered orally and are thus also called oral hypoglycemic agents or oral antihyperglycemic agents. There are different classes of anti-diabetic drugs, and their selection depends on the nature of the diabetes, age and situation of the person, as well as other factors.
Diabetes mellitus type 1: is a disease caused by the lack of insulin. Insulin must be used in type 1, which must be injected.
Diabetes mellitus type 2: is a disease of insulin resistance by cells. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is the most common type of diabetes. Treatments include (1) agents that increase the amount of insulin secreted by the pancreas, (2) agents that increase the sensitivity of target organs to insulin, and (3) agents that decrease the rate at which glucose is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
Several groups of drugs, mostly given by mouth, are effective in type 2, often in combination. The therapeutic combination in type 2 may include insulin, not necessarily because oral agents have failed completely, but in search of a desired combination of effects. The great advantage of injected insulin in type 2 is that a well-educated patient can adjust the dose, or even take additional doses, when blood glucose levels measured by the patient, usually with a simple meter, as needed by the measured amount of sugar in the blood.
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