For many of us with diabetes, prescription medications are already a fact of life—while some of you may be fighting to stay off them.

What you should know is that physical activity and food choices are pillars of diabetes management, to be sure. But medications provide another powerful tool for lowering your blood glucose.

There are many safe and effective meds available these days to help you keep your A1C in range (around 7.0% or less), thereby avoiding long-term complications of diabetes and extending your life span. And who doesn’t want that?

This tip series "Glucose-Lowering Medications" is all about the meds.

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Excuse me if the above statement sounds rude, but it is actually the title of a whole section in a very helpful little diabetes guidebook called “Taming the Tiger: Your First Year with Diabetes.”

The gist is that sometimes when people aren’t getting good BG results, it’s simply because they are not taking their medications regularly. Let me be clear: you need to TAKE THE MEDS REGULARLY in order for them to lower your glucose levels.

There are three very common reasons for skipping meds:

  1. You may simply have trouble remembering
  2. There may be side effects that make you uncomfortable
  3. The cost of the medication may be more than you can afford right now

For No. 1, putting your pills next to your car keys or coffee pot may help you remember, or try setting an alarm on your watch or cell phone. There are also many new "medication reminder" products and services available, that set off alarms or send you text messages when it's time to take your pills. See RememberItNow for an example of a new web-based reminder service.

Regarding No. 2, side effects: talk to your doctor about any discomfort your medication may be causing so that he or she can try substituting another medication. You don’t need to “tough it out” if a med is making you feel unwell.

Finally, No. 3: costs are an important factor, so speak up. Let your health care provider know your concern, and they may be able to switch you to a medication that’s less expensive for you. There are also assistance programs offering free or low-cost prescriptions or supplies to those who qualify. Good resources for researching these programs include:

www.TogetherRxAccess.com
www.Access2wellness.com
www.pparx.org
www.rxassist.org 
www.needymeds.org.

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Other Tips in This Series:

Tip 1: Get to Know Your Diabetes Meds

Tip 2: Pills: Just One Tool - Not a Diabetes Cure-All

Tip 3: Taking Insulin Is Not "The End"

Tip 4: When to Update or Change Your Diabetes Medications