Tablets

Tablets are one form of medication for treating diabetes.

In Australia, there are many kinds of tablets for people with type 2 diabetes. They all work in different ways and some come in combination forms with others. Your doctor, endocrinologist or nurse practitioner will help you find the best treatment for you.

A diabetes educator will help you understand your medication – what it does, what it doesn’t do, what the side effects might be and how to decide if it is suitable for you and your diabetes management goals.

Types of tablets available in Australia:

Biguanide (Metformin)

Usually this is the first medication for people with type 2 diabetes. It is also safe for women with gestational diabetes. It can be taken once or twice a day with food.

Brand names include:

Diabex®

Diaformin®

Formet®.

(Note, metformin comes in combination with several other medications).

How does metformin lower blood glucose levels?

Metformin helps make your insulin work more effectively and reduces insulin resistance. Metformin also reduces the amount of glucose released by your liver.

Side effects

Feeling sick or nauseas, diarrhoea, stomach pains, metallic taste in your mouth. Slow release forms of metformin (XR or ER) may reduce these side effects: ask your doctor.

DPP-4 inhibitors (‘gliptins’)

DPP-4 inhibitors are usually a second or third choice of medication. They can be taken once or twice a day before food.

Brand names include:

Alogliptin (Nesina®)

Linagliptin (Trajenta®)

Saxagliptin (Onglyza®)

Sitagliptin (Januvia®)

Vildagliptin (Galvus®)

(Each brand comes in different combinations with other medications).

How do DPP-4 inhibitors lower blood glucose levels?

‘Gliptins’ increase the amount of insulin your pancreas releases after eating. They also reduce the amount of glucose released by your liver.

Side effects

See the patient information sheet that comes with your specific medication. Common side effects include: a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, muscle or joint ache.

SGLT2 inhibitors

Sometimes called ‘gliflozins’, these tablets are taken once a day as a second or third choice of medication.

Brand names include:

Dapagliflozin (Foxiga®)

Empagliflozin (Jardiance®)

Ertugliflozin (Steglatro®)

How do SGLT2 inhibitors lower blood glucose levels?

This medication increases the amount of glucose that passes out through the kidneys from the blood. This allows glucose to be removed via urine.

Side effects

Increased urination, urinary infections, dehydration. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a rare but serious complication: talk to your doctor or diabetes educator about this.

Sulfonylureas

This class of medication has been ar, which may be used as a first or second option for treating type 2 diabetes. Take with food. This is the only tablet that can cause low blood glucose levels (hypo) taken on its own or with other medications. It is important that you monitor your blood glucose levels daily and before driving.

Brand names include:

Glibenclamide (Daonil®)

Gliclazide (Diamicron®, Glyade®)

Glipizide (Melizide®, Minidiab®)

Glimeperide (Amaryl®, Diapride®, Dimirel®)

How do sulfonylureas lower blood glucose levels?

This medication causes the pancreas to make more of your own insulin.

Side effects

Hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels), some weight gain.

Alpha glucosidase inhibitor (Acarbose)

There is only one tablet in this type of medication. It is not commonly used but may be a second choice if other medications are not suitable. It can be taken three times a day before meals.

Brand names include:

Acarbose (Glucobay®)

How does acarbose lower blood glucose levels?

This medication slows the absorption of glucose in your stomach.

Side effects

Bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea.

Thiazolidinediones (‘glitazones’)

There is only one of these tablets available in Australia currently. It can be taken once or twice daily with or without food.

Brand names include:

Pioglitazone (Actos®, Actaze®)

How do ‘glitazones’ lower blood glucose levels?

This medication helps make your insulin work more effectively and reduces insulin resistance.

Side effects

Fluid retention, weight gain. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about other side effects with this medication.

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