Are Your Diabetes Medications Working?

Ginger Vieira | April 2, 2018

1 of 11
Do you frequently feel lethargic, thirsty, and/or tired within two hours after eating?
  1. 1 Never
  2. 2 Only after certain meals
  3. 3 Several times a week
  4. 4 Nearly every day

Your Results

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
  • 11

    What you’re currently doing seems to be working pretty well for you! That’s great. If you wanted to mix things up a bit, you could always keep your diabetes management energy up by trying some new recipes, going to a different type of exercise class, going for a walk during your lunch-break instead of sitting and eating, or trying to add a multivitamin or more vegetables to your day.

  • 17

    While your overall medication plan is working, a few lifestyle changes you could help you improve things even more. Some ideas: *Make one meal of the day consistently low-carb and loaded with vegetables *Go for a 20-minute walk up and down stairs during your lunch-break *Check your blood sugar more often after your biggest meal of the day to see how it’s reacting *Limit treats and sweets to every other day *Lift weights during your favorite Netflix show Little changes like these can have a big impact on your blood sugar control.

  • 23

    It’s definitely time for a medication dose tune-up — and possibly your medication choices, too. If you’re taking insulin, definitely start looking more closely at your background insulin dose. Talking to your healthcare team about an increase of two to three units can have a tremendous impact on your blood sugar. With insulin or other medications, it’s crucial to know that you have so many options. Some medications help your body pass sugar through your urine rather than absorbing it. Others help your liver produce less sugar and help your pancreas produce more insulin. Ask your doctor about these and other options.

  • 34

    Your answers may signal that something may not be right with your diabetes treatment plan, because you’re indicating that your blood sugar is persistently high. For starters, ask your doctor about using a glucometer. You may not need to use it forever, but using a glucometer for a few weeks will help you better understand what’s going on with your diabetes. Second, it’s time to get moving. There’s no better way to improve your blood sugar than by helping your body burn some of that sugar with exercise — even a 20-minute walk during your lunch break can make a difference.

  1. 1

    Do you frequently feel lethargic, thirsty, and/or tired within two hours after eating?

    Correct Answer: Nearly every day

    If you aren’t getting enough of your diabetes medications to help your body manage the carbohydrates (and some of the protein and fat) from your meals, your blood sugar will be consistently high after eating. This dramatic rise in blood sugar after a meal can leave you feeling thirsty and incredibly lethargic. (Keep in mind: a few drugs, like Invokana for diabetes and Wellbutrin for depression, have expected side-effects of excessive thirst.) The fix can be simple: Talk to your doctor about reducing the carbs in your meals or about adjusting your current medications or adding a new medication. (Tip: Going for a walk right after eating can also help bring post-meal blood sugars down.)
    SOURCE: Symptoms of High Blood Sugar

  2. 2

    Do you frequently feel dizzy, light-headed, shaky, and hungry within two hours after eating?

    Correct Answer: Nearly every day

    Getting too much of a medication (insulin or others) can easily cause low blood sugar (below 70 mg/dL) within two hours after eating. This is a clear sign that your medications need to be reduced immediately. Low blood sugars can be dangerous and lead to overeating because it can make you ravenously crave food, which will only get in the way of your efforts to lose weight and eat a healthy diet. Being able to reduce your medication dosages is usually a sign that your blood sugars and overall insulin resistance is improving! Congrats!
    SOURCE: Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar

  3. 3

    Do you feel as thirsty and have the same need to urinate frequently as when you were diagnosed?

    Correct Answer: Yes, I’m thirsty all the time, and urinating many times a day

    Intense thirst (which is eventually followed by needing to urinate more often because you’re drinking so much fluid) is a very clear sign that your blood sugar is consistently high either all day or only after meals. If you’re truly feeling excessively thirsty all day, your doctor may recommend adding another medication to your treatment plan. If you’re only feeling that degree of thirst in the two or so hours after eating, you may just need a higher dose of your current medications. Don’t ignore this red flag! Talk with your doctor about it right away.
    SOURCE: Symptoms of High Blood Sugar

  4. 4

    Since beginning your medications, have your persistent hunger and cravings decreased?

    Correct Answer: No, I still find myself feeling constantly hungry even if I just ate a meal

    Oddly enough, when your blood sugar is persistently high, you can actually crave more sugar because your body can’t make use of the sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream. This is the result of insulin resistance or your body’s inability to produce enough insulin, which means your medication dosages may need to be increased or it may be time to add a new medication. Be sure to ask your doctor about this. And as always, making lifestyle changes (more exercise, healthier diet, weight loss) are also a crucial part of improving your blood sugar and A1C.
    SOURCE: Symptoms of High Blood Sugar

  5. 5

    If you take metformin, how long have you been taking it?

    Correct Answer: I’ve been taking it for more than five years

    Metformin is the No. 1 most prescribed drug in the world, taken by approximately 120 million people. Metformin works by reducing the amount of sugar released by the liver, and improving how your body responds to insulin. It’s also very inexpensive. But just because it’s often the first thing many doctors prescribe for someone newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right fit for you. It can also cause a lot of gastric distress, especially if you weren’t prescribed the extended release version. So it’s important to know that you have other choices. If metformin isn’t helping you reach your goals, especially if you’ve been on it for 5 years or longer, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for a new treatment plan.
    SOURCE: Metformin

  6. 6

    At your last doctor’s appointment, did your A1C increase?

    Correct Answer: Yes, by a lot (example: 7.3 to 8.3)

    The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that people with A1C test results that are persistently over 7 percent should consider adding an additional medication to their treatment plan. Your A1C is a direct reflection of where your blood sugar has been on average every day for the prior three months. For example, using the ADA’s translation tool, an A1C of 7.5 is an average blood sugar level of 169 mg/dL. This means your blood sugar is hovering in about a 100-point range above and below this number on a regular basis.
    SOURCE: Update: Persistent Hyperglycemia & ADA Translation Tool

  7. 7

    Has your weight increased recently?

    Correct Answer: Yes, by a lot — over 5 pounds

    Weight-gain can be the result of many things (increased insulin resistance, more carbohydrates than your body can handle, not enough exercise, for example) but it could also be a major sign that your current efforts to lower your blood sugar aren’t working well. There are several medications on the market today that also have weight-loss as a side effect. Check with your doctor about whether one of them may help you. Losing weight means you’ll improve your sensitivity to insulin and possibly need less of your diabetes medications to manage your blood sugar.
    SOURCE: Diabetes Medications & Weight-Gain

  8. 8

    During or shortly after exercise, do you experience dizziness, lightheadedness, or worse symptoms due to low blood sugar?

    Correct Answer: Yes, this happens pretty often

    If going for a walk (or any other type of exercise) leaves you feeling any combination of these low blood sugar symptoms, this is clear sign that your insulin or other medication dosages are too high. In a way, this is a good thing because it means your efforts to improve your sensitivity to insulin and reduce your blood sugar are working! But low blood sugar can be dangerous, so it’s crucial to tell your doctor ASAP that you may need to adjust your medication dosages.
    SOURCE: Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar & Exercising Safely

  9. 9

    In the last two years, have your medication dosages changed?

    Correct Answer: No, I’m taking the same dose and struggling with my blood sugar

    There are so many factors that impact your blood sugar (insulin resistance, changes in weight, changes in activity, changes in diet, for example) that it’s very likely your insulin or medication dosages need to be adjusted after two years, if not sooner. The more lifestyle changes you make, the more your meds probably need changing, too. Unless your A1C is exactly where you want it to be and you’re happily maintaining your current health status, it’s time to talk to your doctor about a tune-up!
    SOURCE: Understanding Insulin Resistance & Factors that Change It

  10. 10

    When you wake up in the morning, do you feel sluggish and fatigued?

    Correct Answer: Yes, and I fall asleep easily every time I sit down on the couch or at work, no matter what time of day it is

    If you’re getting the recommended eight hours of sleep, you ought to feel awake and ready to go in the morning. If you start your mornings feeling really sluggish and wishing you could go back to bed even, or you’re fading at 10 a.m. or after you’ve been at work for several hours, this is a big red flag. It comes down to your fasting blood sugar and what your blood sugar was overnight while you slept. There’s no better way to ensure a total lack of energy than by spending eight hours of sleep with your blood sugar well over 180 mg/dL. If this is happening to you, it’s time to talk to your doctor about adjusting your medications or adding a new medication. And if you haven’t been testing your blood sugar in the morning, getting in to that habit should be your new goal – it will give you the information you need to know whether what you’re doing is working!
    SOURCE: Symptoms of High Blood Sugar & Your Fasting Blood Sugar

  11. 11

    When you check your fasting blood sugar first thing in the morning, is it below 130 mg/dL?

    Correct Answer: No, it’s usually higher than that

    When you wake up in the morning and it’s been at least 8 hours since your last meal, you know your medications are working well for you if your fasting blood sugar is in your goal range. If it’s consistently high, that’s a big red flag that your dosages need a major tune-up with the help of your doctor. And of course, if you’re testing your blood sugar at all in the morning, you have no way of knowing if your medications are working well for you! Getting in the habit of testing your blood sugar at least once a day is crucial for long-term success.
    SOURCE: Symptoms of High Blood Sugar & Your Fasting Blood Sugar

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