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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Women and Diabetes - Diabetes Medicines

 

Diabetes can make it hard to control how much sugar (called glucose) is in your blood.

 

There is hope! Some people with diabetes can take medicines to help keep their blood sugar at a healthy level.

 

This booklet gives some basic facts about the medicines used to treat people with type 2 diabetes. Facts about insulin are covered in a separate booklet. Use this guide to help you talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about the kind of medicine that is right for you.

 

Do not wait. Diabetes is a serious illness.

Diabetes can cause a heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, and other serious health problems. This is why it is so important for you to get treatment for your diabetes. Treatment can help prevent or slow some of these serious health problems.

 

You can control your diabetes.

 


Click on these links to go to the different parts of this booklet.

 

Diabetes Tips

Do you need to take diabetes medicines?

What you can do about side effects?

Warning Signs

Diabetes Medicines

Learn More about Diabetes

 


 

Diabetes Tips

  • Talk to your doctor before you change or stop taking your diabetes medicines.
  • Do not take the pills listed in this booklet if you have type 1 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin.
  • Ask your doctor about your target blood sugar level.
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse about what you should do if your blood sugar gets too low or too high.
  • Ask your doctor if your diabetes medicines will affect your other medicines including your birth control.
  • Check the FDA website to learn more about Women and Diabetes: 

    www.fda.gov/womensdiabetes

 


 

Diabetes medicines help to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. There are a few kinds of medicines used to treat diabetes. Each kind affects your body in a different way. Some diabetes medicines are taken as pills that you swallow. There are other medicines that you inject.

 

Do I need to take diabetes medicines?

Some people with diabetes need to use medicines everyday. What you need depends on your health and the type of diabetes you have. Your doctor can tell you if you need to use medicine to treat your diabetes.

  • Type 1 Diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes make very little on no insulin in their bodies. They must take insulin everyday to stay alive. People with type 1 should not take the medicines listed in this booklet.

  • Type 2 Diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes do not make enough insulin or do not use it well enough. Some people with type 2 diabetes can use pills or other medicines that are injected into the body. Other people with type 2 diabetes need insulin to help control their diabetes.

  • Gestational Diabetes

Some women develop diabetes for the first time when they become pregnant. This is called gestational (jes-Tay-shun-ul) diabetes. Some women with gestational diabetes need to use insulin to control their blood sugar.

 


 

My Diabetes Medicines

 

Ask your health care provider these questions before you start using your diabetes medicines.

  • When should I take my diabetes medicines? How much should I take?
  • How will they affect my other medicines? What about my birth control?
  • What are the side effects of taking my diabetes medicines? What do I do if I start having side effects?
  • Can you show me the right way to check my blood sugar?
  • How often should I check my blood sugar?
  • What number should by blood sugar be (my target blood sugar level)?

    Target Blood Sugar Number

    Before Meals              ____________

    1-2 Hours After Meals  ____________

    Bedtime                     ____________

  • What should I do if I am pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breastfeeding

 

Write down the facts about your diabetes medicines the next time you talk to your doctor, nurse, or diabetes educator.

Name: ____________________________________________________________

Doctor: ___________________________________________________________

Pharmacy: ________________________________________________________

My Glucose Meter:__________________________________________________

 

 

Medicine Name

How Much 

Do I Take

When

Do I Take It

What I Should Know

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

  

 

 

 


What You Can Do About Side Effects

 

Diabetes medicines affect each person differently. These medicines can sometimes cause side effects. The side effects will depend on your body and the type of medicine you are taking. Follow these tips to help you learn how to handle the side effects.

  • Get the facts. Ask your health care provider for the side effects, warnings, and other facts for the medicines you are taking. This booklet does not give all the facts for each kind of diabetes medicine.
  • Speak up. Tell someone about any problems you may be having with your medicines. Your doctor may change your medicine or give you tips to help you deal with the side effects.
  • Check the FDA website. You can find up-to-date safety information about your medicine at: www.fda.gov
  • Report serious problems with your medicines.You or your doctor can tell the FDA about serious problems with your medicines.

        Call FDA at 1-800-332-1088 to report serious side effects.

        Learn more about reporting problems to the FDA at:

        www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/HowToReport/ucm053074.htm

 

Diabetes Tip: Talk to your doctor before you change or stop taking your medicines.

 


Know the Warning Signs

 

Low Blood Sugar

Diabetes medicines can sometimes cause your blood sugar to go too low. This condition is called hypoglycemia (HY-poh-gly-SEE-mee-uh).It happens when there is too much insulin and not enough sugar (glucose) in your blood. 

 

Ask your health care provider to tell you all of the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar.

Some of the signs and symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Feel Irritable
  • Feel Dizzy
  • Feel Drowsy
  • Sweating
  • Feel Hungry
  • Feeling Confused
  • Feel Weak
  • Feeling Jittery

 

Many factors can cause your blood sugar to go too low:

  • The Medicines You Take
  • Not Eating Enough
  • Too Much Exercise
  • Drinking Alcohol

 

What You Can Do

  • Talk to your doctor or nurse.
  • Eat or drink foods high in carbohydrates like fruit juice, sugar candy or regular soda (not diet) when your blood sugar is too low.

 

High Blood Sugar

People with diabetes can sometimes have too much sugar (glucose) in their blood. This condition is called hyperglycemia (HY-pur-gly-SEE-mee-uh). It happens when your body is not making enough insulin or is not using insulin well.

 

Ask your health care provider to tell you all of the signs and symptoms of high blood sugar.

Some of the signs and symptoms are:

  • Feel Tired
  • Feel Thirsty
  • Go to the Bathroom a Lot
  • Vision is Blurry
  • Lose Weight Without Trying

 

Many factors can cause your blood sugar to get too high:

  • Stress
  • Eating Too Much
  • Being Sick
  • Having an Infection
  • Not Taking Your Diabetes Medicines

 

What You Can Do

  • Talk to your doctor or nurse.
  • Ask if you should change your medicines or what you eat.

 


Diabetes Medicines

 

The different kinds of diabetes medicines are listed below. The brand names and other names are given for each drug. There are also some general tips about each kind of diabetes medicine. Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to tell you the side effects and warnings for the medicines you are taking. This guide does not give all of the side effects or warnings for each drug.

 

Meglitinide Drugs

 

How do they work? These pills help your body make more insulin around mealtime.

 

Brand NameOther Name
Prandin

Repaglinide

 

Starlix

Nateglinide

 

 

Some Things To Think About

Before you start taking these medicines, tell your health provider if:

  • you have liver or kidney problems
  • you are pregnant or breastfeeding

 

Common Side Effects

  • Hypogylcemia (blood sugar that is too low)

 

Check the FDA website for the latest facts on each product. 

 


Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitors

 

How do they work? These pills help your body digest sugar more slowly.

 

Brand NameOther Names
Glyset

Miglitol

 

Precose

Acarbose

 

 

Some Things To Think About

  • These medicines are not likely to cause weight gain or blood sugar that is too low
  • Before you start taking this drug, tell your doctor if:

        you have heart, liver, or kidney problems

        you are pregnant or breastfeeding

 

Common Side Effects

  • Stomach Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Abnormal Liver Tests

 

Check the FDA website for the latest facts on each product. 

 


 

Thiazolidinedione Drugs

 

How do they work? These pills help the cells in your body use glucose.

 

Brand NameOther Name
Actos

Pioglitazone

 

Avandia

Rosiglitazone

 

 

Some Things To Think About

  • These medicines are not likely to cause blood sugar that is too low.
  • These medicines may raise your chance of having a broken bone (fracture).
  • Before you start taking these medicines, tell your doctor if you have heart failure or liver problems.
  • Rosiglitazone (Avandia) may raise the risk of heart problems related to reduced blood flow to the heart.
  • Rosiglitazone (Avandia) is not recommended for people who take nitrates or insulin.

 

Common Side Effects

  • Fluid Retention
  • Weight Gain
  • Heart Failure (heart cannot pump blood well)
  • Anemia (low red blood cell counts)

 

Check the FDA website for the latest facts on each product. 

 


 

DPP-4 Inhibitors

 

How do they work? These pills help your body release more insulin.

 

Brand NameOther Name
Januvia

Sitagliptin

 

Onglyza

Saxagliptin

 

Tradjenta

 

Linagliptin

 

 

Some Things To Think About

  • Call your doctor right away if you have severe stomach pain with or without nausea or vomiting. This may be a sign of a serious side effect.

 

Common Side Effects

  • Upper Respiratory Infection
  • Headache

 

Check the FDA website for the latest facts on each product. 

 


 

Sulfonylureas Drugs

 

How do they work? These pills help your body make more insulin.

 

Brand NameOther Name
Amaryl

Glimepiride

 

Diabeta

Glynase

Glyburide
Diabinese

Chlorpropamide

 

Glucotrol

Glucotrol XL

(extended release)

Glipizide
*

Tolbutamide

 

*

Tolazamide

 

 

Some Things To Think About

  • Before you start taking this drug, tell your health care provider if you have heart, liver, or kidney problems.
  • Older adults and people with kidney or liver problems may be more likely to have low blood sugar when taking these medicines.

 

Common Side Effects

  • Hypoglycemia (blood sugar that is too low)
  • Weight Gain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

 

Check the FDA website for the latest facts on each product. 

 


 

Biguanide Drugs

 

How do they work? These pills stop your liver from making too much sugar (glucose). They also help the sugar get into your cells.

 

Brand NameOther Name
Fortamet

Metformin

 

Glucophage

Metformin

 

Glucophage XR

(extended release)

Metformin

 

Glumetza

Metformin

 

Riomet

Metformin

 

 

 

Some Things To Think About

  • These medicines are not likely to cause weight gain or blood sugar that is too low.
  • People who drink a lot of alcohol and people with kidney problems may have a rare side effect called lactic acidosis. This causes acid to build up in the blood.
  • Talk to your doctor about your kidney health before you start and while you are taking this type of medicine.

 

Common Side Effects

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Feeling Weak
  • Headache
  • Nausea and Vomiting

 

Check the FDA website for the latest facts on each product. 

 


 

Dopamine Receptor Agonists

 

How do they work? This pill affects a chemical called dopamine in your cells. It is not clear how this pill works for diabetes.

 

Brand NameOther Name
Cycloset

Bromocriptine

 

 

Some Things To Think About

  • Do not take this medicine if you are breastfeeding.

 

Common Side Effects

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Feel Tired
  • Feel Dizzy
  • Vomiting

 

Check the FDA website for the latest facts on each product. 

 


 

Bile Acid Sequestrants

 

How do they work? It is not clear how this pill works for diabetes.

 

Brand NameOther Name
Welchol

Colesevelam

 

 

Some Things To Think About

  • This medicine is also used to treat high cholesterol.
  • Tell your doctor if you are taking other cholesterol medicines.

 

Common Side Effects

  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea

 

Check the FDA website for the latest facts on each product. 

 


 

Combination Drugs

 

Brand NameOther Name

ActoPlus Met

 

Pioglitazone and Metformin

ActoPlus Met XR

(extended release)

Pioglitazone and Metformin

Avandamet

 

Rosiglitazone and Metformin

Avandaryl

 

Rosiglitazone and Glimepiride

Duetact

 

Pioglitazone and Glimepiride

Glucovance

 

Glyburide and Metformin

Janumet

 

Sitagliptin and Metformin

Juvisync

This medicine is used to treat

type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

Sitagliptin and Simvastatin

 

Kombiglyze

 

Saxagliptin and Metformin

 

Metaglip

 

Glipizide and Metformin

PrandiMet

 

Repaglinide and Metformin

 

 

Some Things to Think About

  • These combinations are made up of two kinds of diabetes medicines. The side effects depend on which two medicines are in the pill.
  • Ask your doctor the side effects about the pill you are taking.
  • Ask your doctor the facts about the pill you are taking.

 

Check the FDA website for the latest facts on each product. 

 


 

Other Diabetes Medicines

 

Brand NameOther Name
ByettaExenatide
BydureonExenatide (extended-release)
SymlinPramlinitide Acetate
VictozaLiraglutide

 

Some Things To Think About

Some people with diabetes can take these medicines that you inject under your skin.

  • These medicines are not the same as insulin.
  • Ask your doctor if you should take these medicines with or without food.
  • Some people feel nauseous when they first start taking these medicines.

 

Check the FDA website for the latest facts on each product. 

 


 

Learn More About Diabetes

Resources from the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
  • Information on Women and Diabetes

    www.fda.gov/womensdiabetes

 

  • Report a Serious Problem with Your Medicines

    www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/HowToReport/ucm053074.htm

    1-800-332-1088

 

  • FDA Diabetes Information on WebMD

    www.webmd.com/fda/diabetes/default.htm

 

 

Other Resources
  • National Diabetes Education Program

    www.ndep.nih.gov

    1-888-693-6337

 

  • National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse

    www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov

    1-800-860-8747

 

  • American Diabetes Association

    www.diabetes.org

    1-800-DIABETES

 


 

You Can Control Your Diabetes

  • Make a plan. Work with your doctor, nurse, or diabetes educator to plan how you will manage your diabetes.
  • Check your blood sugar. Use your glucose meter to test your blood glucose (sugar) level.
  • Watch what you eat. Work with your health care team to come up with a meal plan just for you.
  • Use medicines wisely. Ask your health care provider when and how to safely use your diabetes medicines.
  • Be active and get exercise. Dance, take a walk, or join an exercise class. Check with your doctor about safe ways to be more active.
  • Know your ABC’s:

    A - A-1-C blood test measures your blood sugar level over the last 3 months. The A-1-C number should be less than 7 for most

    people.

    B - Blood Pressure

    C - Cholesterol

  • Monitor your overall mental and physical health. Work with your health care team to keep your feet, eyes, heart, and teeth healthy

 

 

This booklet was developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Women’s Health. To download free copies of this booklet and other diabetes materials visit: www.fda.gov/womens

 

This booklet should not be used in place of talking to your doctor or reading the label on your medicine. The drug and risk information in this booklet may change. Check the FDA website for the latest facts on each product.

 

 

Take Time To Care about Diabetes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact FDA

301-796-9440
Fax:301-847-8604
Food and Drug Administration Office of Women's Health

10903 New Hampshire Avenue

WO32-2333

Silver Spring, MD 20993