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6 Things to Know About Non-Insulin Diabetes Injectables

  • Young female doctor comforting patient in clinic
    Today, there are more options than ever to treat diabetes.
    If you have type 2 diabetes and have trouble maintaining your blood sugar, your doctor will most likely prescribe you oral medications before turning to insulin. But in recent years, a number of new injectable medications have become available, offering additional support with blood sugar control. Make sure you know the facts about these new options, and talk to your doctor if you think they may be a good solution for you.
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    1. GLP-1 agonist injectables offer a new way to treat diabetes.
    A hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1, or GLP-1, is released by the intestines when you're eating. It affects how carbohydrates are absorbed in the stomach, regulates how the liver releases sugar, and promotes the release of insulin from the pancreas. When you have type 2 diabetes, your body either does not make enough of this hormone, or the hormone itself is not effective. GLP-1 agonists perform the important job of this hormone so you’re in control of your blood sugar levels.
  • model-of-human-amylin
    2. An amylin analog injection offers another treatment option.
    Amylin is a hormone that accomplishes many of the same tasks as GLP-1, but it uses a different method to do so. Amylin doesn't promote the pancreas to release insulin; in fact, amylin is actually released along with insulin by the same cells in the pancreas. The injectable medication—called an amylin analog—does this when your body isn't releasing adequate amounts of the hormone on its own. The medication requires injection before every meal.
  • Woman standing on weight scale
    3. These injectables can help you lose weight, among other things.
    Non-insulin injectables have a unique effect that causes people to feel full and satisfied quickly when eating. As a result, you may end up eating less and losing weight. They may also help lower your blood sugar level after you eat, as well as your fasting blood sugar level.
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    4. Non-insulin injectables can even lower your insulin dose.
    These medications push the pancreas and liver to release your body's own insulin and prevent your liver from making unnecessary sugar when you are eating. Therefore, if you typically inject insulin before eating, you may need to reduce the dose, since your body is already helping you. Because insulin promotes weight gain, taking less will reduce this concern. Also, having your body work on its own rather than relying on injecting insulin can reduce your risk of hypoglycemia.
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    5. Non-insulin injectables are simple to take.
    The medications are designed for people to inject themselves, so they come in pre-filled pen-like devices. There are several different medications and several manufacturers available, so the details will vary by the maker and from one drug to another. For instance, they're taken either before each meal, twice a day, once a day or once a week.
  • man-touching-stomach
    6. Side effects of non-insulin injections are minimal.
    In general, people don’t experience intolerable side effects with these drugs. The most common side effect is nausea, which occurs because the medication slows the stomach down and causes people to feel full quickly. The medications are also associated with acute pancreatitis in some patients, so caution is needed in people with a history of this condition. Additionally, there are warnings regarding associations with certain types of cancer, but there's no good evidence so far to point toward these risks being anything but theoretical at this point.
Diabetes | 6 Facts About Non Insulin Injections for Diabetes

About The Author

Dr. Hung Nguyen is an endocrinologist at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, California. View his Healthgrades profile >
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THIS CONTENT DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. This content is provided for informational purposes and reflects the opinions of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding your health. If you think you may have a medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately or call 911.