Tablets and Diabetes
EDP column by Dr Ketan Dhatariya

“My GP has stopped some of my diabetes tablets saying that they may make me ill. He said I may need insulin which I don’t want to do. What options do I have?"

It sounds as though you have type 2 diabetes. That is the one where you are treated initially with tablets to keep the blood glucose levels down. The mainstay of treatment is maintaining a healthy diet, trying to lose weight – people with type 2 diabetes are often overweight – and taking some exercise. The exercise may be only to do a little extra walking. However, quite commonly, the diet and exercise do not control the diabetes enough, and medication is then required.

Over time, type 2 diabetes always gets worse. That is the nature of the condition. There are, however, some things that can be done to affect how fast it gets worse. Thus, it will get worse faster if someone chooses to eat cakes, biscuits, crisps, pizza, and take very little exercise, etc, and will get worse slower if a sensible diet is followed, together with some weight loss.

What you may have noticed is that over time the doses of the tablets you take may have increased. You may also have noticed that you needed to take more sorts of tablets to keep the diabetes under control. This is to keep on top of things as the diabetes gets worse. Occasionally, despite being on lots of different tablets, they are not enough, the diabetes gets worse and then insulin has to be started. This is not a ‘failure’, just the use of another medication to make sure the diabetes is kept under control.

Over the last year, one of the commonly used medications for type 2 diabetes has been found to potentially be harmful in certain situations. Your doctor will know about this, and if there are reasons why you should not be on those tablets, then they will have been stopped to prevent you from having side effects. If you do not have any associated conditions that may make you unwell from the tablets, then there is no reason to stop them, especially if they are keeping your diabetes under control.

Research is always underway to try and find new medications to help treat type 2 diabetes. Some of this is being done at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. If you are on metformin only to control your type 2 diabetes and would be interested in taking part, then please call 01603 288570 for more information