Diabetic. Symptoms. Manage.

Is It Time to Review Your Diabetes Medication?

Article by Ken Chang

Diabetes generally is the condition whereby our body is unable to process sugar and regulate a normal blood glucose level. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that has a vital role in blood glucose regulation. When our body does not produce insulin or our body cells has lesser sensitivity to insulin, that is where we develop a condition known as diabetes. In the modern medical world, there is no “cure” per se for diabetes. However, medications have been developed to regulate normal functionality of insulin or our body cells. Diabetes does not necessarily kill us instantly but slowly kill our end organs causing complications like glaucoma, cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure and poor wound healing that would ultimately lead to amputation.


Metformin works to make our bodily cells more responsive towards insulin produced by our body. Besides that, metformin also assist in decreasing the production of glucose by the liver that is reabsorbed by our gastrointestinal system. However, all drugs have their side effects. Although not everyone will experience the same side effect from the drug, the common side effect of metformin are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Sometimes, a person taking metformin may also experience a lingering metallic taste in their mouth as well. If the stomach symptom persists, one should consult their doctors or pharmacists.


Sulphonylurea is a class of drugs which stimulate more production of insulin from one’s pancreas. The increase secretion of insulin from the liver helps to lower blood glucose level. However, serious side effects of hypoglycaemia or low blood glucose level is common with the use of sulphonylurea. Serious complications such as hypoglycaemic coma and end organ damage may occur if not with caution.

Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors

DPP-4 inhibitors are also known as gliptins. This class of medication are a relatively newer drug used as the second or third line of anti-diabetic medication. They work by reducing the destruction of incretin which helps to stimulate the production of insulin when needed and reduce glucagon when not needed. Insulin helps to lower blood sugar which glucagon stimulates the production of glucose from the liver into the blood stream. DPP-4 inhibitors may benefit those whose blood glucose level no longer response to metformin. Common side effect on this class of drug may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Latest reports have linked DPP-4 inhibitors to the increased risk of pancreatitis, which is the inflammation of the pancreas. Therefore, if there is a persistent abdominal pain, one should always consult a doctor or pharmacist.

In short, there are a variety of medications used to correct the regulation of blood sugar level in diabetic sufferers. It is vital to know how to correctly take the medication and understand the side effect and risk of taking each kind of medication.



1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes statistics report, 2017. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf. Updated July, 18 2017. Accessed August 1, 2017.
2. WebMD. Metformin HCL. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-11285-7061/metformin-oral/metformin-oral/details (accessed 24 Mar 2018).
3. Inzucchi SE, et al. (2012). Management of hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes: A patient-centered approach. Diabetes Care, 35(6): 1364-1379.

4. Diabetes.co.uk. DPP-4 Inhibitors (Gliptins). https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-medication/dpp-4-inhibitors.html (accessed 24 Mar 2018).


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