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What are Oral Hypoglycemic Agents?

By Eric Stolze
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Oral hypoglycemic agents are drugs that doctors typically prescribe to patients with diabetes. These drugs are used to control a patient’s blood sugar and are taken in a tablet or capsule form with a glass of water in most cases. Several types of oral hypoglycemic agents are available for patient use including secretagogues, sensitizers and other oral diabetes drugs. People with diabetes typically have abnormally high levels of blood sugar that usually requires regular monitoring and correction with medications. Diabetes patients may also use other forms of diabetes treatment that are not administered orally, such as insulin, in some instances.

Secretagogues are oral hypoglycemic agents that typically trigger an insulin release by cells in the pancreas. These drugs include sulfonylureas such as glipizide, glyburide and gliclazide as well as glimepiride that are used by some patients with type II diabetes. Meglinitides are shorter-acting secretagogues that may also improve insulin release and include drugs such as nateglinide and repaglinide.

Sensitizers are oral hypoglycemic agents that typically improve insulin resistance in patients with type II diabetes. These medications include biguanides such as metformin, buformin and phenformin that may improve a patient’s use of glucose. Thiazolidinediones may positively affect a diabetes patient’s fat metabolism and glucose regulation and include drugs such as pioglitazone and rosiglitazone. Other oral hypoglycemic agents include alpha-glucosidase inhibitors such as acarbose and miglitol that generally reduce the rate at which glucose from digested food enters the bloodstream.

Natural forms of diabetes treatment may include cinnamon, chromium and vanadium supplements. Patients who use natural forms of diabetes treatment may benefit from a discussion with a doctor about possible interactions between oral hypoglycemic agents and natural supplements. Some components of cinnamon may mimic the effects of insulin and reduce blood glucose levels in certain individuals. Chromium supplements that contain chromium picolinate may aid glucose tolerance in some people with type II diabetes. Vanadyl sulfate, a form of vanadium, may help some people maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Patients with diabetes typically monitor their blood sugar levels with a portable blood glucose monitoring device. Individuals with type I diabetes generally produce insufficient levels of insulin in their bodies, and they often use insulin injections to maintain healthy insulin levels. People with type II diabetes usually have a form of insulin resistance that is usually treated with oral hypoglycemic agents. In many cases, individuals with diabetes may improve their overall health by getting regular exercise and losing excessive amounts of body weight. Many diabetes patients who take oral hypoglycemic agents discuss the effectiveness of these drugs with their doctors and they may require more than one medication in some cases.

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Discussion Comments
By anon110437 — On Sep 12, 2010

i want to know about the historical views of hypoglycemic agents.

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