When it comes to managing diabetes, your doctor will most likely prescribe you some medication. These drugs are used in combination to help you achieve – together with your diet and exercise plan – optimal blood sugar levels. These medicines work by either stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin, increasing the effectiveness of insulin, lowering the amount of glucose produced by the liver, improves insulin sensitivity or reducing the digestion of starches.
It’s important that whatever combination of drugs, that you comply with the prescribed dose and timings. You should also talk with your doctor about any other medications you are taking, even if it’s just generic over-the-counter medications, vitamins or supplements. This is to prevent any undue reactions happening between the different drugs.
One of the most important things to do – apart from remembering to take your medication – is taking them at the right time!
Medicines before meals: Take these before you start eating. These medicines work to prepare the body for the increase in glucose levels after you have eaten.
Medicines with meals: Take these with the first mouthful of food. These medicines are meant to slow the breakdown of sucrose and complex carbohydrates in the intestines. Taken at the beginning of the meal means the medicine can be absorbed for maximum effect.
Medicines after meals: Take these after you have finished eating. These medicines work to reduce side effects such as bloating that can be caused by other drugs
Medicines at other times: Certain medications are best taken at night because their effect is enhanced when timed with the body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Coordinating your diabetes medications with your meals is important to ensure safe and constant levels of blood sugar and prevent dangerous peaks and lows. If you need help clarifying which medicines are best taken when, don’t hesitate to ask your pharmacist or health care team. You should also take your medications exactly as prescribed and at the same timing every day.
Tips for safe medication
It’s worth keeping in mind that your diabetes medications are an essential part of your treatment. While there may be some side effects, the benefits outweigh the cons. If you are concerned about the side effects of your medications, speak with your health care team on how to manage these.
Remember, it can be dangerous to stop taking your medicines or changing your medication dose without the say-so of your doctor or health care provider. Even if you feel perfectly well, do not stop taking your medicines.
To help you remember to take your medications exactly as prescribed, set an alarm on your mobile phone and/or have a caregiver remind you. You may also store your medicines in clearly marked pill boxes. A log book in which to keep track of your medicines can also act as a handy reminder – and you can also jot down any changes in your reaction to any medicines. When taking your medicines, ensure your hands are clean. To prevent accidentally taking the wrong dose, double check the name and dose before taking them. It’s a good habit to keep track of how much medication you have in store so you don’t run out before your next doctor’s appointment.
And don’t forget! When travelling, bring a copy of your prescription and your medications with you in their original packages. Always pack some extra so you have spares on hand for any unexpected delays.