Almost half the population of the United States has diabetes or pre-diabetes. Diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to process blood sugar due to a deficiency in production or function of the hormone, insulin. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which no insulin is produced at all, while type 2 diabetes is more common and is characterized by a lack of sufficient insulin or insulin that cannot process blood sugar efficiently.
Both types of diabetes lead to the accumulation of high blood sugar levels that can cause other serious health risks like blindness, kidney damage, heart attack or stroke if left untreated. There is no cure for diabetes, so managing the condition with medication and lifestyle changes is crucial for patients to live healthy and wholesome lives.
Canagliflozin, or brand name Invokana, is used to treat type 2 diabetes and to prevent the risk of heart attack or stroke in diabetic patients. The drug works by preventing the re-absorption of glucose that is filtered by the kidneys back into the blood, allowing glucose to be excreted with urine instead. This prevents high blood sugar levels from accumulating. Common side effects include frequent urination, dry mouth, dizziness, lightheadedness and yeast infections. Invokana is not currently available as a generic drug.
Jardiance, or empagliflozin, is used to treat diabetes when cardiovascular disease is also present in the patient, as it can significantly reduce death due to a cardiovascular event in diabetic patients. Jardiance can also help with weight loss in diabetic patients. This medication works by facilitating the excretion of glucose through urine and it is prescribed more often than other drugs in the SGLT2 inhibitor class for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Common side effects of the drug include low blood pressure, urinary tract infections and fungal genital infections. Jardiance is not available as a generic drug.
Glimepiride, or trade name Amaryl, belongs to the sulfonylurea class of drugs that is used to treat type 2 diabetes by stimulating the release of insulin by the pancreas. It can also help the body use insulin efficiently to lower blood sugar. The medication is usually taken once a day. The most common side effects are nausea, upset stomach, dizziness, headache and low blood sugar. The sulfonylurea drugs are not indicated for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. Generic versions of the medication are available.
Glipizide is used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Like the other sulfonylureas, the medication works by stimulating pancreas to release insulin in response to glucose intake. Glipizide is usually taken once a day before breakfast. Common side effects associated with taking the drug are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, weight gain and low blood sugar. Generics are available on the market.
Glyburide is used to treat type 2 diabetes and it works by stimulating insulin production by the pancreas after glucose intake. The drug is usually taken once a day with breakfast. Side effects include nausea, heartburn, fullness of stomach, weight gain and low blood sugar. Generic versions manufactured by many companies are available.
Tradjenta, the trade name of linagliptin, is used to treat type 2 diabetes. The DPP-4 inhibitors prevent the release of glucagon, which increases blood glucose levels. This effect also increases insulin secretion, which further reduces blood glucose levels. The medication is taken once a day. The FDA has issued a warning that DPP-4 inhibitors including Tradjenta can cause severe joint pain, but the drug does not have many other common side effects. There are no generic drugs for Tradjenta currently available.
Metformin is currently the first-line medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Due to the high global prevalence of diabetes, metformin is one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world. The drug is believed to lower blood sugar by decreasing glucose production in the liver and increasing sensitivity of the body to insulin. Compared to other anti-diabetic drugs, metformin has a lower risk of hypoglycemia and insulin resistance associated with taking it. The medication is usually well tolerated and some common side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Pioglitazone is used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The medication belongs to the thiazolidinediones class of drugs that decrease insulin resistance, and thereby increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Importantly, this class of drugs should not be taken by patients with heart failure as it can worsen or cause heart failure in diabetic patients. Common side effects are weight gain, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. Generics for pioglitazone are available.
Saxagliptin is a medication used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Like other DPP-4 inhibitors, saxagliptin increases insulin production in response to glucose intake. This medication is effective in controlling blood sugar levels in patients, but it does not reduce the risk of an adverse cardiovascular event from occurring, and it can increase the risk of heart failure in some people. Other side effects include joint pain. There are currently no generics for brand name Onglyza available.
Sitagliptin, or trade name Januvia, is the first drug that was marketed under the DPP-4 inhibitor class of drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes. The medication also increases the production of insulin in the body by inhibiting the release of glucagon. Common side effects include headache, sore throat, joint pain, or nausea. Sitagliptin is a second-line treatment for type 2 diabetes after metformin. A combination medication of sitagliptin and metformin is also available. There are currently no generic drugs for Januvia available.
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