May 2, 2008, Newsletter Issue #152: Oral Anti-Diabetic Agents

Tip of the Week

There are three primary types of diabetes, including Type I, Type II and Gestational. For Type II diabetes, treatment usually consists of diet changes, weight loss and the use of oral anti-diabetic agents, also called anti-hyperglycemic drugs.

There are 5 classes of oral agents:
* sulfonylureas
* biguanides
* alpha-glucosidase inhibitors
* thiazolidinediones
* nonsulfonylurea secretagogues

Each class of drug aids in the control of blood glucose in a different way.

1. Sulfonylureas work by causing your pancreas to release more insulin into the blood stream. These include glipizide and glyburide.

2. Biguanides lower blood sugar by decreasing the amount of sugar produced by the liver, and increasing the amount of sugar absorbed by muscle cells and by decreasing the body's insulin resistance. Glucophage is a biguanide.

3. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors act by reversible inhibition of the enzymes that break down sugars in the gastrointestinal tract. Enzyme inhibition therefore delays and reduces the peak of postprandial blood glucose. An example of an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor is Acarbose.

4. Thiazolidinediones lower blood sugar by decreasing insulin resistance.

5. The mechanism of action of the nonsulfonylurea secretogogues, is similar to that of the sulfonylureas. Unlike sulfonylureas, however, they have a "quick on-quick off" action that reduces the incidence of late post-meal hypoglycemia. Prandin is one.

Regardless of the class of oral anti-diabetic agent that your doctor prescribes for you, it is vital that you:

* take it as directed
* monitor your blood sugars
* eat according to your meal plan
* notify your physician of any high or
low blood sugar concerns

With proper management, and adherence to your diabetes treatment, including diet, weight loss, exercise and medication control, you can decrease your risk of developing Type I diabetes, and the complication associated with your disease.

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