Why Your Medication Changes

You may need a different diabetes medication over time

If you’re nervous about trying a different medication, think of it this way: there are 3 parts of your diabetes management plan: exercise, diet and medication. And, as your diabetes changes, you will work with your doctor to adjust all 3. Just as your exercise routines and meal planning change over time — your treatment can too. Change can be scary, but your doctor will help you know what is best for you in each part of your treatment plan. Try to be open to the adjustments your doctor makes including different medications, knowing these changes are what your body may need to help you keep your blood sugar on track. Learn about how Greg, Amy and Julie managed changes to their treatment plan.

Watch their stories

Everyone has their own story, choose one of the TeamingUp Champions below to see his or her path towards better blood sugar control.

Greg

Starting basal insulin

"My diabetes still wasn't under control with oral medication."

Amy

Finding the right basal insulin for me

"I switched to a different basal insulin and needed to find the right dose."

Julie

Adding mealtime insulin

"I needed better blood sugar control around meals."

These patient stories are based on real people and have been provided for generalized education purposes only. Your healthcare professional is the single best source of information regarding your health. Please consult your healthcare professional if you have any questions about your health or treatment. Individual results may vary.

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Hey, I’m Greg

I recently started basal insulin

Click the markers on the path to view different parts of Greg's story
 
 
 
 
 
 

Before basal insulin

My first medication was metformin, a pill. After that my doctor added and removed different pills, but nothing was working. He mentioned basal insulin. I did not like the idea of injecting myself with insulin, but my diabetes had me feeling frustrated and exhausted. I was spending 17 hours a day in bed, hardly living the life I wanted to live. I was ready to give up, but my daughter reminded me to keep going. The next time my doctor suggested basal insulin, I was ready to give it a try.

Adding basal insulin

Adding basal insulin was not easy, but my doctor and I decided along with diet and exercise, it was the best way to get closer to my goals. At the beginning I was nervous about injecting myself, but with the support of my doctor and family, I was able to get over it quicker than I thought. Starting insulin was not like I would have imagined. Keeping in close contact with my doctor and creating a routine for when to take my injections helped me. It wasn’t easy, but once my blood sugar numbers were in the recommended range, I felt more in control.

After adding basal insulin

I wish I hadn’t waited so long to start on basal insulin. It was hard to adjust, but my doctor explained that my body was not producing enough of its own insulin. He told me insulin is what helps my body move sugar from my blood into my body's cells for energy. After my doctor and I saw my A1C, we knew that basal insulin was the right choice. My family and I talk openly about how we are dealing with my diabetes. They support me every step of the way, be that a walk together, eating healthy, or making sure I remember to take my medicine. Diabetes is a lifelong challenge; it takes time and effort to figure out, but you can make progress and that success feels great!

Hi, my name is Amy

My doctor and I needed to find a basal insulin that was right for me

Click the markers on the path to view different parts of Amy's story
 
 
 
 
 
 

Before beginning my newly prescribed insulin

I was taking basal insulin, but was still having some trouble reaching the blood sugar goals my doctor gave me. While my numbers weren’t terrible, they weren’t where we wanted them to be. My doctor and I made some changes to my diet and exercise routines, but something wasn’t working. My doctor said it was time to think about changing my medicine.

Changing my basal insulin

My doctor recommended changing to a different basal insulin to help get my numbers under control. She compared changing my insulin to changing my diet and exercise routine. Just as we worked together to adjust my eating habits and physical activity — we would work to change my newly prescribed insulin. Figuring out the right dose for my body took some time. I needed to focus on my blood sugar levels, which meant checking more often, and tracking my diet and exercise. It was an emotional time; I kept wondering whether changing my insulin meant my diabetes had gotten really bad. Thankfully, I had my doctor’s support; she reminded me that diabetes can change over time, even if I am trying my best to manage it.

Adjusting to my newly prescribed basal insulin

Adjusting my dose on the newly prescribed basal insulin took some time, but it was a step towards better blood sugar control for me. Talk to your doctor to see if basal insulin is right for you.

Hi, I'm Julie

I needed a medication that helped control my blood sugar highs after eating

Click the markers on the path to view different parts of Julie's story
 
 
 
 
 
 

Before mealtime insulin

Before adding mealtime insulin, I was taking metformin and basal insulin. So when I started to see my numbers sneak higher and higher, I thought it was something I’d done, or wasn’t doing. I cut down on carbs and walked more often, for longer distances and began testing more frequently. I continued to keep track of everything and share it with my doctor. That’s actually what shed light on the changes my body was going through.

Adding mealtime insulin

Adding mealtime insulin wasn’t easy, especially in the beginning. It was rough figuring out how this newly prescribed medicine fit into my life. There were so many changes to my routine with managing multiple injections a day. I also needed to remember that my dose of mealtime insulin would change based on what and how much I ate. I needed to test more often; when I woke up, after breakfast, before and after lunch and dinner, and even in public. Adding this newly prescribed medication was a big change, but it’s clear from my blood sugar numbers that mealtime insulin is working for me.

After adding mealtime insulin

In my case, it took about a month to see my mealtime insulin was working. I tried my best to be patient. I had to build habits around my new plan, and stick to them. I don’t go anywhere without my insulin and supplies. I have a special place in my purse where I keep everything for when I need it. My doctor explained that after eating a meal, blood sugar levels rise. That's when my body needs more insulin to help move the sugar in my blood into my body’s cells. My new plan is working and I feel much better. In fact, my doctor is so pleased with my progress that she uses me as an example for other patients in her practice. Talk to your doctor to see if mealtime insulin is appropriate for you.

 

Here’s a look at some medications your doctor may add to your treatment plan

How diabetes pills can help

  • Biguanides (metformin) help decrease the amount of blood sugar made by your liver. They also help improve the way your body responds to insulin.
  • Sulfonylureas help your pancreas make more insulin; insulin helps lower blood sugar.
  • DPP-4 Inhibitors prevent the breakdown of GLP-1 so that GLP-1 can help the pancreas make more insulin after meals.
  • SGLT2 Inhibitors help lower blood sugar by eliminating sugar in the urine.
  • Thiazolidinediones help insulin work better in your muscles and fat cells and reduce the sugar produced in the liver.
  • Possible side effects of oral medications: Each oral treatment works in a different way and can have different side effects. Some possible side effects may include: gas, diarrhea, upset stomach, risk for low blood sugar, weight gain, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections.

How injectable medications can help

  • Insulins Basal insulin (also referred to as “long-acting insulin”) provides blood sugar-lowering activity for approximately 24 hours. Along with the rest of your treatment plan, it can help control your blood sugar between meals and while you are sleeping.

    Intermediate-acting insulin begins working 2-4 hours after you take it and helps lower your blood sugar for 12-18 hours.

    Mealtime insulin is released quickly, helping you control your blood sugar after meals.

    Possible side effects of insulin: The most common side effect of insulin is low blood sugar. Some people may experience symptoms of low blood sugar such as shaking, sweating, fast heartbeat, and blurred vision, while some experience no symptoms at all.
  • GLP-1 Receptor Agonist A GLP-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA) helps your pancreas make more insulin, which helps lower blood sugar. GLP-1 RA helps decrease the amount of blood sugar made by your liver. It also helps slow down the breakdown of foods in your stomach and intestines, which slows down the increase in blood sugar.

    Possible side effects of GLP-1 RA: The most common side effect of GLP-1 RA is nausea. Some people also experience vomiting or diarrhea. These side effects tend to occur when you first begin using a GLP-1 RA.