pre diabetes medication

Types of Pre-Diabetes Medication (And How They Help)

Combining Medication and Lifestyle Changes for Pre-Diabetes Control

Pre-diabetes is a health condition characterized by high blood sugar levels but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. In many ways, it can serve as a wake-up call, helping individuals thwart a diabetes diagnosis and the potential complications that come along with it.

Pre-diabetes can often be managed or even reversed with the right lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. Yet, in some cases, lifestyle alterations may not be enough. This usually means medication is used to help regulate blood sugar levels.

So, in this article, we take a closer look at the types of medication for prediabetes blood sugar, helping you gain a better understanding of your prescription (or what you may be prescribed).

3 Types of Pre-Diabetes Medications

About 96 million Americans have pre-diabetes. And along with the obesity epidemic, these numbers are only rising. With pre-diabetes, it’s essential to introduce lifestyle changes or glucose-lowering medications to achieve normal blood glucose readings and avoid a type II diabetes diagnosis.

Oftentimes, your doctor will also closely monitor your condition, ensuring things don’t get worse and that the medications prescribed are helping. So, what can you expect in terms of pre-diabetes medications?

1. Metformin

While metformin is a common prescription for those diagnosed with diabetes, it is also frequently used as a go-to for those with pre-diabetes who are at a high risk of eventually developing diabetes.

Those who are high-risk include:

  • Those with a high BMI (Body Mass Index).
  • Those aged 35 years or older.
  • Those who have a family history of type II diabetes.
  • Those who have a history of gestational diabetes.
  • Those of African, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander or American Indian descent.

Metformin works by lowering the levels of glucose produced by the liver, reducing the amount of glucose absorbed via the food you eat and helping your body use insulin properly.

Especially for pre-diabetes, your doctor will likely prescribe you a low dose. It’s usually taken twice a day with meals.

Another thing worth mentioning is that initially, many people may experience some gastrointestinal side effects, such as diarrhea, gas and nausea. However, they usually go away in the first week or are non-existent with smaller doses.

2. GLP-1 Agonists

These types of medication are often used for diabetic patients and those who would benefit from weight management. This is where your doctor may prescribe these types of medications for getting prediabetes under control.

The recently popular Ozempic is categorized as a GLP-1 agonist. It’s technically a lower dose of a more commonly used diabetes medication (Wegovy, also known as semaglutide). This injectable works to mimic a hormone called GLP-1, which slows digestion and reduces one’s appetite.

3. SGTL2 Inhibitors

These types of medications are also becoming more popular in the world of prediabetes and diabetes. SGTL2 inhibitors work by inhibiting the reabsorption of glucose from the urine, causing excess sugar to be excreted. As a result, this lowers blood sugar levels and allows insulin to do its job more effectively.

Types of SGTL2 inhibitors include:

  • Canagliflozin (Invokana).
  • Ertugliflozin (Steglatro).
  • Sotagliflozin (Zynquista).
  • Dapagliflozin (Farxiga, Forxiga).
  • Empagliflozin (Jardiance).

Other Treatments for Pre-Diabetes

While prescribed medication can help with pre-diabetes, it usually isn’t the first line of defense unless a person is at a very high risk of developing diabetes (such as those who are morbidly obese).

Other ways to manage pre-diabetes, even alongside medication, include:

  • Dietary Adjustments: What you eat and how much you eat all play a role in the development of diabetes. Often, dietary changes include adding more vegetables to your plate and reducing processed or pre-packaged foods. Fiber-rich foods and high-protein foods are also great options for managing blood sugar levels.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise is one of the easiest and simplest ways to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Strength training and walking are some of the best forms of exercise for health and longevity. If you’re new to exercise, try starting with simply five minutes of walking a day and gradually build from there.
  • Quit Smoking: Nicotine has the potential to increase blood sugar levels. It also may contribute to insulin resistance, as well as increase your risk of heart disease, lung cancer and so much more. If you’re having trouble quitting, consider joining a support group in your area.
  • Focus on Weight Loss: If applicable, weight loss can help lower your risk of diabetes. The above changes will help you do this. It’s also important to reduce stress in your life, get a good night’s rest and develop healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Discussions with your doctor can further help you determine the right path for you when it comes to managing pre-diabetes. They know you and your health situation the best and can offer more pertinent advice.