Here's Why Your Oral Diabetes Medication Stopped Working

Even though there isn't a cure for type 2 diabetes, you can manage the condition through diet, exercise, and keeping a healthy weight. While some people might need insulin injections to help manage their blood sugar, other people might use oral drugs to assist in treating their type 2 diabetes. Medications like metformin help insulin move sugar from the blood to the cells, while others like saxagliptin increase insulin to lower blood sugar (via WebMD).

Because your body is continually changing, you might find that — at some point — your oral diabetes medication is no longer effective. Over the course of type 2 diabetes, the insulin-producing pancreas begins to lose beta cells, according to Franciscan Health. What's left of the beta cells has to work overtime in shuttling glucose to the cells of your body. Eventually, these beta cells stop working altogether, which might mean the current strength or type of medication might not be enough to control your blood sugar. However, there might be some other changes in your life that impact your blood sugar — and these may contribute to your type 2 diabetes medications not working as well.

Factors that might increase your blood sugar

Certain changes in your life might make your medication less effectiveness, such as a recent illness or change in your diet or exercise plan, according to Healthline. Gaining some extra weight might also affect how well your diabetes medication works. Taking steroids, antibiotics, or antibiotics could increase your blood sugar, which places added stress on you (and your diabetes medications).

Stress can also factor into your blood sugar levels, according to Franciscan Health. This might mean physical stress, such as surgery or an injury, or emotional stress. Your blood sugar could also be affected by dehydration and your menstrual cycle. According to Baylor Scott & White Health, certain times of the year can impact your blood sugar levels. Chilly temperatures in the winter not only decrease blood flow throughout the body, but it can cause your blood sugar levels to read higher. And even certain eyedrops — like the ones commonly used to beat spring allergies — might contain steroids that could affect blood sugar.

What to do if your diabetes medication stops working

Even if you've controlled for other factors that could increase your blood sugar, Healthline says that oral diabetes medications become less effective in as many as 10% of people with type 2 diabetes every year. You should see your doctor to review your current treatment plan and make necessary changes. If metformin stops working, your doctor may prescribe another oral medication that controls your blood sugar in a different way. For example, sulfonylureas help your pancreas make insulin, while SGLT2 inhibitors cause your kidneys to shuttle out glucose through your urine. Taking more than one oral medication for type 2 diabetes can help control your blood sugar. Your doctor might also recommend adding insulin to your current oral diabetes medication or suggest other forms of insulin therapy.

Aside from insulin, the Food and Drug Administration is approving new options to help manage type 2 diabetes. Mounjaro (tirzepatide), Trulicity (dulaglutide), and Ozempic (semaglutide) are glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists that help the body produce more insulin and control blood sugar (via