Treatment of diabetes can be done in many ways. Treatment with drugs or pharmacological treatment is one of them. Though physicians always recommend lifestyle modifications as the best option for prevention and treatment of diabetes, the situation sometimes demand the use of medications for controlling diabetes.
Pharmacological treatment of diabetes can be done by several processes including hormonal (insulin) therapy and use of various classes of drugs. The drugs can be insulin sensitizers, secretagogues, alpha glucosidase inhibitors and peptide analogs like incretin.
Various Pharmacological Treatment Options of Diabetes
This is the commonest way of treatment of diabetes. Generally it is injected in the subcutaneous level and the action is quite fast. However, inhaled insulin is also available.
There are various types of insulin and they can be classified according to their source of production and the way they act. The type of the insulin may also vary according to the combination of factors like the time they take to act, the time when they act best and the period for which they remain active. So we have short action, intermediate action, long action, extra long action and of course, the rapid action insulin. But the patient hardly has any choice as all these varieties have their specific use and the physician prescribes them according to the need of the patient.
Biguanides fall in the group of insulin sensitizers and address the problem of insulin resistance. These are also the very popular diabetes drugs and are preferred for treatment of Type 2 diabetes in children and teenagers. These drugs reduce the glucose output of the liver and helps in increase of glucose uptake by the skeletal muscles and the periphery.
The general drugs of this class are Phenformin, Buformin and Metformin. Of these the first 2 have been discontinued as they led to lactic acidosis, a condition where the cells of body receive less oxygen and the patient can experience lethargy, anxiety and nausea.
Sulfonylureas belong to the group of insulin secretagogues, or the drugs that causes the release of insulin. These drugs have now climbed the popularity chart and are most widely used variety of oral medication of diabetes. The variety of this drug that is being used now belongs to the second generation which has reduced many of the side effects shown by the first generation of the drug.
Alpha Glucosidase Inhibitors
This group of drugs cannot be said to act directly on the insulin secretion system. What they actually do is slow down the process of breaking down of starch in the small intestine.
This results in slowing down of absorption of glucose by the blood stream. So in case the insulin reception of the patient is slow, his or her system can take up the glucose at a gentler pace. However, these are good only for mild malfunction of the system. In advanced stages these drugs are used in conjunction with other drugs or therapies.
Incretins are a group of drugs falling under the category of peptide analogs. They cause the secretion of insulin immediately after eating. And this works before the blood glucose levels can increase. So they restrict the rise in sugar levels. Further, they also slow down the rate of nutrient absorption and emptying of the stomach. Thus, apart from diabetes control they also reduce food intake in a person.
Finally, various alternative medicines are used for the treatment of diabetes. But most of their reasons of being effective are yet to be medically established.