Learn how to get the most from your diabetes medicines with these top tips.
When you have diabetes, your body does not make enough of the hormone insulin or does not use it well enough. Insulin controls blood glucose, so this means that with diabetes you get raised blood glucose (sugar) levels.
However, when used alongside a healthy diet and exercise, diabetes medicine can effectively lower your blood glucose levels. Read these top tips for making sure you get the most from your diabetes medicines.
1. Know your diabetes medicines
For your medicines to work well, you need to take them as prescribed. Make sure you understand the right time to take them and any special instructions about timing around meals, and what to do if you have missed a meal or if you are fasting for an operation or for religious reasons. Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you are unsure. Read more about questions to ask about your diabetes medicines.
2. Develop a routine for taking your medicines
Ask your pharmacist whether medicines should be taken at a certain time of day or without food. Then create a daily habit. This might involve taking medicines with breakfast or right before bed. If you have problems fitting your medicines into your everyday life (work schedule, meals, activities) ask your healthcare provider for help or suggestions to make your medicine routine simpler to follow.
3. Try pill boxes or blister packs
Ask your pharmacist about aids to help you to take your medicines as prescribed, eg, using pill boxes or blister packs. Read more about remembering to take your medicine.
4. Keep a record of your medicines
Include over-the-counter (OTC) medicines such as vitamins, herbal supplements and complementary medicines. Take this record to medical appointments, and ask your doctor or pharmacist before you take anything new even if it is just for a short time, so they can check whether it is safe for you.
5. Have a sick day plan
If you are taking diabetes medicines and are unwell with the flu or gastro (vomiting or diarrhoea), a urinary tract infection, skin infection or chest infection, you need to take extra care. In these situations, blood glucose levels can become more difficult to manage. Read more about having a sick day plan for type 2 diabetes and a sick day plan for type 1 diabetes.
6. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about side effects
Diabetes medicines affect each person differently. These medicines can sometimes cause side effects. The side effects depend on your body and lifestyle, and the type of medicine you are taking. Tell your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about any problems you have with your medicines. They may recommend a change to your medicine or give you tips to help you deal with the side effects. Read more about medicines and side effects.
7. Be patient
It may take a while to find a medicine regimen that works for you. Your adjustment process will have its highs and its lows, but your health professionals are there to help guide you if you have problems.
8. Take good care of yourself
Quitting smoking, eating healthy food, being active every day, making sure you get enough sleep and, if you need to, talking about your alcohol use with your healthcare provider not only keep you healthy, they help your body make the best use of your medicines.