Get help with my medications

People with type 2 diabetes may need medicines in addition to dietary changes and physical activity if these alone don't adequately control blood glucose levels.

There are three main reasons to treat type 2 diabetes with medicines:

  • to relieve the symptoms of diabetes, including increased thirst and needing to urinate frequently
  • to keep blood glucose as close as possible to recommended levels (ie, 6.1–8.0 millimoles [mmol] per litre [L] before a meal and 6.0–10.0 mmol/L after a meal)
  • to reduce the risk of developing the complications of diabetes, such as heart disease, kidney disease, eye conditions, and foot and leg problems.

Anyone using medicines to control their diabetes should also follow a healthy, balanced diet and be physically active. This can help to maintain a healthy weight and may improve blood glucose control, reduce the need for medicines, and help to prevent some of the long-term complications of diabetes.

A pharmacist can provide information and advice on any of your medicines prescribed by your GP, including how to take them correctly, possible side effects and medicine interactions, and ways to help you manage your medicines. Ask your pharmacist about using a safety net card for your prescription medicines.

Any local pharmacist can help you. Your GP can arrange for a pharmacist to do a Home Medication Review with you.

If you are taking several medicines, you may find a Home Medicines Review by a pharmacist useful in managing your medicines.

Everyone with type 2 diabetes will need different types and doses of medicine according to their symptoms and their individual needs. The medicines you take may need to change during pregnancy, illness, or during and after surgery.

There are many types of medicines for controlling type 2 diabetes – each with their own benefits and side effects. Each type of medicine works in a different way to control blood glucose levels.

If you have type 2 diabetes and have been recommended insulin by your health professional, read or download the fact sheet Thinking about starting insulin? This leaflet answers some of the questions – and addresses some of the myths – about starting insulin.

It is important for you to tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking – prescription, over-the-counter and complementary (herbal/'natural'/vitamin/mineral) medicines – as some medicines may interact with diabetes medicines and affect blood glucose control.

Make sure to take your medicine as prescribed

Taking your medicine exactly as prescribed should improve your blood glucose control, which will give you more energy, better sleep and fewer days off work. It can also help prevent, delay or minimise your risk of developing complications of type 2 diabetes.

Because type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition you may eventually need to take additional diabetes medicines to help control your blood glucose levels. Taking your medicine as prescribed from the beginning may help delay this need for extra blood glucose-lowering treatment.

If you experience unpleasant side effects, do not stop taking your medicine. Talk to your health professional, as they may be able to alter the dose, timing, formulation or medicine to minimise adverse effects.

If you have trouble remembering or managing your medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist about dosing aids, such as Webster packs or dossette boxes, or use a reminder system like the MedicineList+ smartphone app to help you remember.

Find out more and print a Medicines List, or download free MedicineList+ smartphone app.

Help with managing your medicines

A medicines list can help you keep track of all the medicines you are taking, including prescription, over-the-counter, herbal and natural medicines. Make sure that you:

  • keep it up to date by removing any medicines you are no longer using and adding new medicines as you start using them
  • take it with you each time you visit your doctor, pharmacist or health professional, or if you go into hospital
  • keep it with you at all times in case of emergency.

Phone for medicines information

Call Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) to get information about your prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, 'natural', vitamins and mineral supplements) from a pharmacist. Your call will be answered by healthdirect Australia

Get medicines information:

1300 Medicine (1300 633 424)

Report a medicines problem:

1300 134 237 - Adverse Medicines Event Line

Online via the Therapeutic Goods Administration

Source: National Prescribing Service NPS MedicineWise http://www.nps.org.au