How to Tell If Your Diabetes Medications Are Working

“With some medications, you can see a change immediately.”

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It’s possible to manage type 2 diabetes solely with dietary tweaks and increased physical activity, but many people with diabetes will also need medications to help manage their disease. There are numerous medications available to treat type 2 diabetes, so if one doesn’t work for you, another probably will. 

But how can you tell if it’s working for you?

“With some medications, you can see a change immediately from a few days to a few weeks,” says Ana Kausel, MD, endocrinologist in New York City. However, just because a medication doesn’t bring immediate results doesn’t mean it’s not a good fit. “In order to see improvement in your overall diabetes management, patients should stay on their medication for at least a few months to a few years.”

The most accurate way to see if your medications are working is by regularly checking your blood sugar levels at home, according to Dr. Kausel. Your numbers should be steady—not too high and not too low. Learn more about monitoring blood sugar here

If your medications seem to be having a negative effect on your diabetes management—or the side effects are not tolerable—do not stop taking your medications or adjust your dose. This can be dangerous, and medication changes should always be done under the guidance of a medical professional.

“If you think your medications are not working and not improving your sugar levels, you should go back to your medical care team and discuss with them what other options might be better for you,” says Dr. Kausel. Your doctor can help you find a better regimen for your needs, whether that means adjusting your dose, making lifestyle changes, or trying a new medication altogether. 

“Nowadays, there's so much technology [and] so many new great medications for diabetes management, that we can tailor based on your very specific needs,” says Dr. Kausel.