Side Effects of Diabetes Medicine
Metabolic Health
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Diabetes Medicine Side Effects

Diabetes medications can be an excellent approach to keeping blood sugar levels stable. However, they can occasionally produce negative effects or interfere with other medications you are consuming. The diabetes medicine that works best for you will be determined by your circumstances, health, diabetes care regimen, nutrition and activity, and other health concerns.

Side effects of diabetes medicines are undesirable complications brought on by medication. Unfortunately, certain diabetic medications have some typical side effects.

1. Biguanides

Examples

Metformin (Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Glumetza, Fortamet, Riomet)

  • Biguanides are a kind of drug used to treat type 2 diabetes and other illnesses. 
  • They function by lowering the amount of glucose produced during digestion.
  • Metformin is the only Biguanides that is now accessible in most nations for treating diabetes. 
  • The brand names for these medications are Glucophage (metformin) and Glucophage XR (metformin extended-release). 
  • Metformin is also available with various other diabetic drugs, including sulfonylureas. 

Side Effects

  • Nausea  
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach upset 
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weakness

2. Sulfonylureas

Examples

Glipizide (Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL), Glimepiride (Amaryl), Glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab)

  • Sulfonylureas are a class of drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes.
  •  The body does not utilize the hormone insulin correctly in type 2 diabetes, resulting in high blood sugar levels
  • The medications act by boosting insulin secretion from the pancreas. 
  • Sulfonylureas are only one component of a type 2 diabetes treatment strategy that should also include exercise and diet to help regulate blood glucose levels.
  • Glipizide (Glucotrol and Glucotrol XL), glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase, and Glynase PresTab), and glimepiride are examples of second-generation sulfonylureas (Amaryl). These medications are excellent in rapidly lowering blood sugar levels, but they also carry the risk of causing hypoglycemia. 

Side Effects

  • Upset stomach
  • Dark-coloured urine
  • Skin reactions
  • Weight gain

3. Meglitinides

Meglitinides are medications used to treat type 2 diabetes. These are taken orally. The mechanism upon which they work is based on triggering the production of insulin in the body. They stimulate the beta cells of the pancreas to produce more insulin by allowing the body to process glucose better. This can help lower blood sugar levels. This medication is taken after meals. Since they are not a substitute for insulin, they must be taken under the direction of a doctor and should be consumed in combination with lifestyle changes.

Examples

Nateglinide (Starlix), Repaglinide (Prandin)

  • Meglitinides are medicines that are used orally. 
  • They function by stimulating the synthesis of insulin. Prandin (repaglinide) and Starlix are examples of medications in this family (nateglinide). 
  • Meglitinides stimulate beta cells to create more insulin, allowing the body to handle glucose more efficiently and, as a result, reduce blood sugar levels
  • This kind of drug is intended to reduce blood sugar levels after meals. It is especially beneficial for persons with varied schedules and when routine mealtimes aren't always available. 
  • The first medicine in this class, repaglinide, was authorized in 1997, followed by nateglinide in 2000. Meglitinides can be used on their own or in conjunction with other drugs. 

Side Effects of Meglitinides

  • People prone to allergies can be negatively affected by the consumption of these medications.
  • Any person under a significant amount of physical duress caused by infections, injury, or surgery should avoid consumption.
  • People with kidney diseases should consider other options for medication as these meds can increase the risk of hypoglycemia
  • Common side effects are – low blood sugar levels – sweating, shaking, lightheadedness, confusion, etc
  • They can also cause weight gain in some people
  • Some of the more severe consequences of taking these meds are – if taken without food, they can cause a significant drop in blood sugar levels.
  • Since they are known to interact with other medications, it is best advised to take them upon the prescription of a doctor.

4. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

Examples

Acarbose (Precose,) Miglitol (Glyset)

  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are medications used to treat type 2 diabetes. 
  • This family of pharmaceuticals includes two medications: acarbose (Precose) and miglitol (Glyset). 
  • They assist in limiting the quantity of glucose in the bloodstream from rising too quickly after you eat. 

Side Effects

  • Abdominal pain 
  • Diarrhoea to flatulence. 
  • These medications inhibit the digestion of starchy meals like bread, potatoes, and pasta and the absorption of certain sugars like table sugar.

5. DPP-4 inhibitors

Examples

Alogliptin (Nesina), Linagliptin (Tradjenta), Saxagliptin (Onglyza), Sitagliptin (Januvia)

  • Gliptins are a family of oral medicines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus in individuals. 
  • FDA-approved DPP-4 inhibitors include sitagliptin, saxagliptin, linagliptin, and alogliptin. 
  • These medications work by stimulating incretin hormones, which are gut hormones that regulate glucose homeostasis after eating. 
  • They can be used as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with other drugs. 

Side Effects

  • Multiple upper and lower tract infection
  • Headaches.

6. SGLT2 Inhibitors

Examples

Canagliflozin (Invokana), Dapagliflozin (Farxiga), Empagliflozin (Jardiance), Ertugliflozin (Steglatro)

  • Inhibitors of sodium-glucose transport protein 2 (SGLT2) are a kind of drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. 
  • Gliflozins are another term for them. SGLT2 inhibitors reduce the reabsorption of glucose from plasma that has been filtered past the kidneys, allowing for more glucose elimination in the urine. 
  • This aids in the reduction of blood sugar levels. In people with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, 
  • Invokana (canagliflozin) reduces the risk of severe cardiovascular consequences.
  •  Farxiga (dapagliflozin) lowers the risk of heart failure hospitalization in people with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 
  • Jardiance (empagliflozin) lowers the risk of cardiovascular mortality in persons with type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 
  • Steglatro (ertugliflozin) may be used in conjunction with another medicine such as metformin as an SGLT2 inhibitor. 

Side Effects

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Thirst and increased urination.

7. Insulin therapy

  • People with diabetes require insulin to maintain their health
  • Insulin therapy is the best medication for type 2 diabetes. 
  • Insulin therapy, on the other hand, might result in a variety of common side effects caused by diabetes medication. Insulin is a hormone that aids in the regulation of blood sugar (glucose).
  • Insulin treatment is started for all T1DM patients at the time of diagnosis. Diabetes patients are treated with insulin. 
  • The time it takes insulin to start working and how long it lasts depends on the type of insulin you consume as insulin is the best medicine for type 2 diabetes.
  • Exercise, nutrition, sickness, few medicines, and stress can impact insulin and blood sugar levels. 
  • Insulin aspart (Novolog), insulin lispro (Humalog), insulin glulisine (Apidra), and insulin glulisine (Apidra) insulins (bolus insulin) function over a narrower, more predictable period. They are most commonly used at the start of a meal since they function rapidly. They immediately lower blood sugar levels and only act for a short period. Insulin is the best medication for type 2 diabetes.
  • Insulin detemir (Levemir) and insulin glargine (Lantus and Basaglar) reduce blood sugar levels for a more extended period during the day and night. 

Side Effects

  • Fast heart rate
  • Tingling
  • Shakiness
  • Hunger and dizziness.

What are the side effects of diabetes?

Diabetes is a complicated and chronic condition. When we hear this word, our mind automatically goes to blood sugar. However, blood sugar is just one part that makes diabetes what it is. Albeit an important part, blood sugar control and a lot more are associated with this condition. Diabetes can affect your body’s long-term ability to produce insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows your body’s sugar levels and glucose to turn into energy.

Apart from hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia – which is the elevation and reduction of blood sugar levels, diabetes side effects are many more. Here are some of the other dangerous effects of diabetes:

  1. Loss of consciousness – Without proper treatment of high and low blood sugar levels, a person faints and enters into a diabetic coma. This is common for both – hypo and hyperglycemia. With elevated blood sugar levels, the body can witness a build-up of acids called ketones and it can enter into a state called diabetic ketoacidosis. Similarly, in low-sugar conditions, the body can be deprived of sugar and the heart might not have enough glucose to continue its activity.
  2. Stroke – There is a higher chance of the body entering into a stroke. It is 4 to 5 times more common in people with diabetes. Due to hemorrhage in the brain, this occurs more.
  3. Problems with vision Diabetes can cause retinopathy as blood vessel damage is very common in people with diabetes. These can lead to diabetic retinopathy and can cause severe visual impairments. If left untreated, it can also result in blindness.
  4. Cataracts and glaucoma – A person with diabetes would be at a higher risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma. These tests need to be conducted every 4-6 months to detect early signs and prevent them.
  5. Extreme thirst ­– One of the first noticeable symptoms of diabetes is also one of the effects and consequence of the condition.
  6. Sweet-smelling breath – High levels of ketones found in the blood or urine of a person with diabetes can influence and cause sweet-smelling breath. This is one of the more severe complications of diabetes.
  7. Greater risk of heart disease – Again, blood vessel impairments can add to the stress on the heart thus increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The heart also experiences a lot of fatigue when the body goes through several frequent episodes of low sugar.
  8. Higher risk of infections – Because of the low immunity among people with diabetes, there is a higher chance of bacterial, fungal, and yeast infections affecting the body.
  9. High blood pressure – The blocking of veins and arteries of the heart and throughout the body can result in high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  10. Gastroparesis – Poor blood sugar management is accompanied by a delay in the emptying of food in the stomach. This can cause bloating, heartburn, and nausea.
  11. Fatigue – Overall problems in the kidney and pancreas can make the body burn more energy and feel tired. This can also cause trouble with concentration.
  12. Pancreas malfunction – A poorly or non-functioning pancreas will not produce enough insulin as required by the body.
  13. Problems with urine – Excessive urination accompanied by higher levels of protein in the urine is common in people with diabetes. If you notice these, get your kidneys tested too.
  14. Ketoacidosis – To compensate for the lack of insulin, the body might use other hormones to turn fat into energy. This produces higher levels of acids in the body leading to ketoacidosis. Diabetes Ketoacidosis is life-threatening.
  15. Nerve damage – Diabetes often causes damage to the nerves. The nerves in the body can feel like ‘pins and needles’ and can also impair the perception of heat, cold, pain, etc
  16. Dry skin – uncontrolled and high blood sugar can lead to a dry mouth, chapped lips, and cracked skin
  17. Foot problems ­– The risk of infection can result in callouses and ulcers in the foot. This is caused due to nerve damage and a decrease in the circulation of blood to the feet. Also know about signs and symptoms of diabetes mellitus.

Precose side effects

Precose or Acarbose helps in slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates in the body that can assist in better control of blood sugar levels. It is used in combination with diet and exercise to treat type 2 diabetes.

Some of the precose side effects are:

  1. People allergic to it or have any sort of digestive disorders should not use it as it can aggravate the issues even further.
  2. Any intestinal ulcers or liver cirrhosis should be checked before their consumption
  3. It can cause certain issues when you are pregnant or are nursing a baby, inform your doctor beforehand.
  4. It can create allergic reactions in certain people – hives, difficulty in breathing, swelling of the face, lips, throat, and tongue
  5. Precose can lead to severe constipation, stomach pain, or diarrhea with blood or water.
  6. It is also known to cause easy bruising and unusual bleeding in the nose, mouth, rectum, or vagina. You may also notice red pinpoint spots under your skin
  7. Other side effects can be liver problems, nausea, pain in the upper stomach, itching, and feeling very fatigued. Loss of appetite, darker color or urine, clay-colored stool, and even jaundice.
  8. Some other common side effects are – stomach discomfort, gas, bloating, mild diarrhea, mild rashes on the skin, and itching.

Best Medicine for Diabetes without Side Effects

Diabetes is a dangerous disease caused by reduced insulin release from the pancreas and impaired insulin sensitivity in muscle cells: excessive urine, severe thirst, elevated blood sugar, and increased hunger symptoms. There is the best medicine for diabetes without side effects on the market to treat this illness, but the following are the most effective in reducing A1C and blood sugar levels. The best medicine for diabetes without side effects are

  • Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar (long- and rapid-acting).
  • Metformin is a medication used to treat diabetes (biguanide class).
  • Glipizide is an anti-diabetes medication (sulfonylurea class).
  • Glimepiride is a kind of glimepiride (sulfonylurea class).
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How to Treat Diabetes without Medicine

Instead of using drugs, make some healthy lifestyle modifications to help manage this common ailment.

  • Maintain a healthy diet: Eat more whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Rather than sipping juice, eat entire fruits. Look for hidden sugars in the ingredients listed on product labels.
  • Lose weight: Losing just 5 to 10% of your body weight can help you regulate your blood sugar, lower your cholesterol, and lower your blood pressure.
  • Get adequate quality sleep: Sleeping for fewer than six hours every night might disturb the equilibrium of insulin and blood sugar.
  • Exercise: Exercising for 30 minutes a day can help lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin resistance, and help manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Bottomline

We are what we eat. Medicines and drugs do cure diseases, but it leaves back a lot of unwanted side effects that can result in serious issues after a while. Eating healthy, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and only having the medicines that are utmost required for the body is the motto of leading a healthy life. Crunching down on meds and compromising on a healthy lifestyle has become a present generation trend. To bypass this thought and regain proper health with little to no medicinal support is the actual goal to reduce the side effects of drugs on the body. To find the best medicine for diabetes without side effects, make sure to visit a trained professional. Also know about treatment for diabetes in ayurveda.

FAQs

1. Can Diabetes medicine be stopped?

No. Do not stop diabetes medicine. Stopping diabetes medicines without consulting your doctor can be detrimental to your health. Consult with your doctor before taking any steps.

2. How do you limit the side effects of diabetes drugs?

First of all, gets to know about the medications for diabetes and how they perform. Talk with your doctor about the prescriptions and how minimal medicines you can take. Do not crunch down on medicines more than required and have a healthy lifestyle to reduce the dependency on medication as much as possible. 

3. What is the alternative to Diabetes drugs?

Once a person is diagnosed with diabetes, it is extremely hard to treat diabetes without any medication. However, following a healthy lifestyle - exercising, eating a healthy diet, having a good quality sleep and getting off of any addictions like smoking and drinking - has helped many people with diabetes to keep their blood glucose levels at par without crunching down on medicines. But there are other forms of treatment, such as yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and Chromotherapy, which can be beneficial. 

References

  • https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes-drugs-side-effects-interactions

Disclaimer

This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.