The 9 Types Of Oral Diabetes Medications: Pros, Cons, and How They Work

3. Thiazolidinediones

How They Work:

Thiazolidinediones reduce glucose production in the liver and help increase insulin sensitivity.

How They’re Taken

Taken once a day at the same time.

Pros/Cons:

These drugs are generally less effective than sulphonylureas, averaging a 0.5 to 1.4 percent reduction in A1C, but they do not cause low blood sugar when used alone.

Side effects may include water retention, edema (swelling), weight gain, vision problems, reduced sensitivity to touch, chest pain, and skin reactions. In rare cases someone may experience macular edema, heart problems, liver failure, or bone fractures. Thiazolidinediones can reduce the effectiveness of birth-control medications.

Examples:

Pioglitazone (Actos)

Photo: AdobeStock/kamilsezai
Photo: AdobeStock/kamilsezai

4. Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors

How They Work:

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, sometimes called starch blockers, lower blood glucose by blocking the breakdown of starches (like bread, potatoes, and pasta) in the intestine. These drugs slow the rise of glucose after eating.

How They’re Taken:

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors should be taken at the beginning of a meal. They should not be taken without food.

Pros/Cons:

These drugs may provide a 0.5 to 0.8 point reduction in A1C, but may cause gas, diarrhea, upset stomach, and abdominal pain. Side effects should subside after a few weeks.

Examples:

Acarbose and miglitol (Precose and Glyset, respectively)

Photo: AdobeStock/diego cervo
Photo: AdobeStock/diego cervo

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