By Donna Itzstein
Diabetes Queensland Pharmacist
Your diabetes medications generally work well together. Each
family of diabetes medication works in a different way to lower
your blood glucose levels (BGLs).
Diabetes medications act on several organs such as the pancreas,
kidney, brain, liver and gut. They also act at a cellular
If you are prescribed a medication that increases your risk of
hypoglycaemia, (BGLs below 4mmol/l), it's a good idea when you
start taking it to monitor your BGLs frequently until they become
If you have any incidents of hypoglycaemia, report them to your
When starting a new medication consider:
- New diabetes medications may increase your
risk of hypoglycaemia (BGLs below 4mmol/l).
- Herbal or complementary medicines may affect
the way your body removes or reacts to your current diabetes
medications. Herbal medications may also have a direct effect on
- Adding a new medication for other conditions
besides diabetes, such as asthma, can also affect your current
diabetes medications. Some medications may have a direct effect on
your BGLs or mask the symptoms of high or low BGLs.
- Alcohol can increase or decrease your BGLs.
When your BGLs are low, glucose is released from the liver. Alcohol
is also broken down in the liver, so when the liver is busy
processing the alcohol, it may not release enough glucose to keep
your BGLs steady.
Who can you ask? Talk with your pharmacist and doctor before
starting any new medication or herbal remedy. The best two
questions to ask are:
- How will this new medication/herbal remedy affect management of
- How can alcohol affect my BGLs when taking these
For more information regarding diabetes medications please read
the NDSS information sheet Medications for type 2 diabetes.
For enquiries regarding this topic please call Diabetes
Queensland on 1800 177 055.
Being a member of Diabetes Queensland connects you with
one of Australia's largest diabetes community, their families,
carers, supporters and health professionals. Renew
your membership today.