Easy Read Information
Some people control their diabetes with tablets.
This page has information about this.
Many people with diabetes take tablets. Diabetes tablets work by lowering the blood glucose. They do this by either stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin, or by helping the body to use the insulin that it does produce more effectively.
Managing Diabetes with Tablets
It is important to remember that the tablets are not instead of the diet: you will still need to carry on with the healthy diet as well.
Commonly used tablets in the UK are metformin, gliclazide, glimepiride, pioglitazone and some newer tablets knows as ‘gliptins’. You can ask for more information on these medications from your diabetes specialist nurse or doctor.
You may also find that your tablet requirements will change over the course of your diabetes. Some people take a combination of tablets to control their blood glucose levels. Sometimes this is not enough and a mix of tablets and insulin will be needed.
For more information on hypos ask for an information leaflet and discuss with your diabetes team.
What happens if I forget to take my tablets?
It is important to take your tablets regularly, but people do forget from time to time. If you remember your tablet only an hour or two later, take it then. If it is longer, miss that dose and take your next tablet at the usual time. Do Not double your dose because you have missed a tablet.
What happens if I am Ill?
Do Not stop taking your tablets when you are ill. If you are vomiting and cannot keep your tablets down, and your blood glucose levels are high, contact your family doctor or diabetes team straight away.
Will other medications affect my diabetes tablets?
Steroids and some water tablets can make your blood glucose levels rise. If this happens to you contact your family doctor or diabetes team for advice.
Some cold remedies are unsuitable for people with diabetes, if you require cold or cough remedies ask your pharmacist for appropriate sugar free varieties.
Some tablets including some antibiotics, some antidepressants and some blood pressure tablets can lower your blood glucose levels. If you are in any doubt ask your family doctor or diabetes team for advice.
Do tablets cause hypoglycaemia?
Hypoglycaemia or hypo is the medical term for low blood glucose level. Hypo’s can happen when you are treated with insulin or some diabetic tablets. Although hypos brought on by tablets are less common than those caused by insulin you should still be aware of the symptoms and treatment of hypo’s.
What are the reasons for/symptoms of a Hypo?
- feeling hungry
- tingling lips
- blurred vision
- blood glucose levels less than 4mmol/l.
Reasons for hypos include:
- missing meals or snacks
- unplanned exercise
- not enough carbohydrate with your meals
- drinking alcohol on an empty stomach
How do I treat a hypo?
Take a short acting carbohydrate, for example small glass of Lucozade or 3 dextrose tablets or 2 heaped teaspoons of sugar. This should be followed by a meal if due or a snack of a longer acting carbohydrate to prevent the blood glucose from dropping again, for example a sandwich, cereal, plain biscuits or milk.
Frequently Asked Questions
Royal Liverpool University Hospital
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