Medications to treat type 2 diabetes include sulfonylureas and meglitinides to help the body release more insulin, metformin and thiazolidinediones to make the body more sensitive to insulin, and injected insulin, Mayo Clinic says. Other medications include SGLT2 inhibitors to cause the kidneys to excrete sugar in the urine, GLP-1 receptor agonists and DPP-4 inhibitors. Which medication or combination of medications a doctor prescribes depends on the condition of an individual patient. Metformin is typically the first medication doctors try.
The medications and other treatments for type 2 diabetes are designed to correct the way the body deals with sugar in the blood. Normally, the insulin hormone controls how the cells in the body absorb sugar from the blood, but with type 2 diabetes, the cells become resistant to insulin or the body does not produce enough insulin, explains Mayo Clinic. This results in excess sugar in the bloodstream and reduces the energy available to the body's cells.
Some people use moderate exercise and dietary changes to manage type 2 diabetes without medication, notes Mayo Clinic. There is no cure for the condition, and people with diabetes need to consistently monitor their blood sugar. For mild cases, blood sugar level checks can be occasional, but people taking insulin must check their levels several times per day.