Diabetes and you ❯ Medicines


Use medicine in conjunction with healthy eating and regular physical activity, not as a substitute

Oral medications

People with type 2 diabetes are often given oral medications. Currently several drug classes are in use in Sri Lanka. Your doctor will prescribe you tablets which are right for you and will explain you when to take, how much to take and any possible side effects.
Biguanides (Metformin)
Points to remember
  • Metformin is often prescribed as the first Diabetic tablet.
  • It generally doesn’t lead to weight gain and may help to manage weight.
  • Metformin itself doesn’t cause low blood sugar, unless it is combined with insulin or other tablets
  • You can develop nausea, vomiting, abdominal fullness and discomfort, loose stools as its common side effects
  • It never harms your kidney, but protects it. But once kidney is damaged due to diabetes, your doctor will stop or reduce your Metformin dose
  • When to take: after meals.
  • Tolbutamide
  • Gliclazide
  • Gliclazide(MR)
  • Glibenclamide
  • Glipizide
  • Glimepiride
Points to remember
  • Sulphonylureas lower blood sugar by stimulating the pancreas to release more insulin.
  • You will be given this tablet in combination with Metformin or other tablet.
  • You can develop low blood sugar (Hypoglycemia) with these drugs.
  • You can gain weight unless you comply with your healthy meal and active life.
  • When to take: before meals.
Thiazolidinediones (Pioglitazones)
They help to lower blood glucose levels by increasing the effect of your own insulin, especially on muscle and fat cells, i.e. they improve insulin resistance.
Points to remember
  • This drug will be given to you with other diabetes tablets
  • As side effects, it can cause fluid accumulation in body causing leg swelling, worsening heart failure, kidney failure and liver failure. Your doctor will consider all this and decide whether the drug is right for you
  • There are concerns about the weakening of your bones, bladder cancer risk with this drug in certain patient groups
Alpha Glucosidase Inhibitors (Acarbose)
They help to slow down the digestion and absorption of certain dietary carbohydrates in the stomach (intestine).
Points to remember
  • Side effects include flatulence (wind), bloating and diarrhoea.
  • They can be taken together with other classes of medication including insulin.
  • They need to be started at low doses and increased slowly to reduce side effects.
  • When to take: They need to be taken just before eating.
DPP-4 inhibitors
  • Sitagliptin
  • inagliptin
  • Saxagliptin
  • Vildagliptin
Points to remember
  • By themselves, they are unlikely to cause hypoglycaemia.
  • These drugs do not cause weight gain.


Sri Lanka Diabetes Federation is a comprehensive national programme, which has been designed with the key objective of preventing diabetes and related complications. It was launched on 01.10.2015 as the public arm of Sri Lanka College of Endocrinologists.
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Web Editor
Sri Lanka Diabetes Federation
C/O Sri lanka college of Endocrinologists
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