Also known as adult-onset or non insulin-dependent diabetes, type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body is able to metabolize sugar. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells. However, when you have type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin, or it doesn’t produce enough to maintain normal blood glucose levels.
Successfully managing type 2 diabetes normally consists of eating healthy, exercising regularly, monitoring your blood sugar, and sometimes taking diabetes medications or insulin therapy. However, there are some new treatments that give you more options for controlling your blood sugar.
Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors
Though most medications for type 2 diabetes help your body learn how to make better use of insulin, this medication does not deal with insulin at all. Instead, SGLT2 inhibitors turn off some of the proteins that keep glucose in your body, which causes the sugar to leave through your urine rather than being stored in your kidneys.
Additionally, this medication usually causes weight loss, since you will be losing calories through your urine. It is common to lose between five and ten pounds in the course of just six to twelve months. SGLT2 inhibitors can also help with your blood pressure, since you are losing salt as well.
Afrezza is the only inhaled insulin medication that is available in the United States. Similarly to asthma inhalers, the insulin comes in four and eight unit cartridges that pop into the inhaler.
Whether or not inhaled insulin will be effective for you depends on how sensitive your body is to receiving it. If you are able to see a difference with just one or two units, then you might be taking more insulin than you actually need, which could lead to hypoglycemia. However, if you require up to 30 or 40 units for a single dose, that means using ten or more cartridges at once, which is impractical for daily use.
Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 Receptor Agonists
This type of medication has been around for a little while, but there are new versions of these drugs that don’t require you to take them as often as before. GLP-1 is a hormone that your gut releases when you eat that tells your body to produce more insulin. However, the effects of this will usually only last a few minutes. When you take a GLP-1 receptor antagonist medication, you will experience similar effects, but they will last much longer.
Before, shots such as Victoza and Byetta would last up to ten hours, requiring treatment at least once per day. However, now there are medications such as Tanzeum (albiglutide), Trulicity (dulaglutide), and Bydureon, which can release exenatide that will last for up to seven days. The only drawback to these medications is that any possible side effects would also last for at least a week, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.