Type 2 Diabetes Treatment

Diet and exercise may be enough to control blood glucose levels in some people with type 2 diabetes. But if you're still not meeting your HbA1c goal or if you're having diabetes symptoms, your doctor will start you on oral medications, either alone or in combination with insulin injections.

In some cases, when oral medication is not enough to control blood glucose levels, your doctor may prescribe an injected medication other than insulin. Called exenatide (Byetta), this medication belongs to a new class of type 2 diabetes drugs known as incretin mimetics.

In May 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved linagliptin (Tradjenta) to treat type 2 diabetes in adults. This medication, which is used in combination with diet and exercise, blocks the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) and increases the release of insulin after a meal - leading to better blood glucose control.

Side effects of linagliptin include respiratory tract infection (stuffy or runny nose, sore throat), headache and muscle soreness. This drug is not used to treat type 1 diabetes or in people who have a diabetes complication called diabetic ketoacidosis (high levels of toxic chemicals called ketones in the blood or urine). Signs of diabetic ketoacidosis include breath that smells like fruit or nail polish remover and the following:

  • excessive thirst and urination
  • dehydration
  • weight loss
  • nausea and vomiting
  • fatigue
  • dry or flushed skin
  • rapid breathing
  • abdominal pain
  • mental confusion

Publication Review By: Written by: Christopher D. Saudek, M.D.; Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.

Published: 29 Apr 2009

Last Modified: 10 Mar 2015