What should I know about taking medication if I have diabetes?


New research is leading the way toward better therapies and improved quality of life for many people with diabetes. Medication can be an important part of your treatment plan. How do you know if and when you need insulin or other medications? The answer depends on which symptoms or complications you're experiencing, your blood glucose levels, and other factors you should discuss with your healthcare team.

If you are sick and you have diabetes, small doses of medicines with sugar are usually okay. But to be on the safe side, ask the pharmacist or your team about sugar-free medicines.

Many medicines you take for short-term illnesses can affect your blood sugar levels, even if they don't contain sugar. For example, aspirin in large doses can lower blood sugar levels. Some antibiotics lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes who take diabetes pills. Decongestants and some products for treating colds raise blood sugar levels.

If you must go to the emergency room or see a different doctor than usual, be sure to say you have diabetes, or have your identification bracelet in plain view. List all the medicines that you are taking. Your blood sugar level can also be affected by medicines you take for chronic or long-term conditions.

Many patients with type 2 diabetes can manage their diabetes with oral medication, not insulin injections. These pills help people whose bodies have become resistant or insensitive to insulin. If their blood sugars remain well controlled with diet, exercise and these medications, they may not need to use insulin.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.