Skip to content

Why take medicine?

Diabetes medicine helps to keep your body strong and healthy. It helps to keep your sugar (glucose) levels controlled. But if healthy eating, exercise and having a healthy weight does not help to keep your glucose under control, you might need to take tablets and/or insulin.

Your doctor might put you on tablets called Metformin to help your insulin work better and to lower the amount of glucose in your blood.

After a while the pancreas gets tired from working too hard and cannot make enough insulin, so your doctor might put you on tablets called sulphonylurea. This medicine helps your body make more insulin. Or, after a while, your doctor might need to add another set of tablets.

Remember to take your medicine with or after meals, in the morning, afternoon or supper time. Take them at the times the doctor told you.

All tablets work differently and some can have side effects.

If the following problems do not go away or if you are still worried about them, talk to your doctor.

  • feel sick like you want to vomit (throw up)
  • a sore belly
  • diarrhoea
  • blood glucose levels going too low
  • have fluid build-up (retention).

When your blood glucose levels rise and stay too high your doctor might put you on tablets and give you insulin.

  • Taking insulin does not mean you have type 1 diabetes.
  • Insulin is not like tablets, so it should not be swallowed.
  • You inject the insulin under your skin in different places on your belly.

Talk to your doctor, health worker or nurse about insulin and what is right for you.

Taking too much insulin or too many sulphonylurea tablets can make your glucose levels drop too low and make you ‘hypo’ (hypoglycaemia).

You can also go hypo if you are:

  • not eating, not eating enough, or eating too late
  • being extra active
  • drinking grog (alcohol).

You might not feel anything when you have a hypo, but sometimes you might feel:

  • shaky
  • hungry
  • weak
  • confused
  • angry
  • sweaty.

You might also:

  • get headaches
  • talk like you are drunk even though you are not.

When you have these feelings or think you are having a hypo, get your blood glucose level up quickly by drinking or eating something sweet.

Keep your blood glucose at target levels and stop having another hypo by eating a sandwich or meal after you have something sweet.

Remember, after taking your tablets or insulin:

  • keep them somewhere cool, dry and safe (maybe in the fridge at home or at the clinic) so they will not go bad
  • keep them out of reach of children
  • get rid of your syringes/needles and finger pricking needles by putting them in a “sharps container” or “hard plastic” empty container with a lid (see if the clinic has one).

Remember to take your tablets and/or insulin with you when you are away for home.

Diabetes Australia acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this Country. We recognise their connection to land, waters, winds and culture. We pay the upmost respect to them, their cultures and to their Elders, past and present. We are committed to improving health outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by diabetes and those at risk.

Learn about the artwork