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Women and Diabetes - Diabetes Medicines

Women and Diabetes - Diabetes Medicines

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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 page gives some basic facts about diabetes medicines. Insulin is covered in a separate page. People with type 1 diabetes must use insulin. Use this page to help you talk to your healthcare provider 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 page.


General Tips

There are 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. Some people with diabetes need to use medicines every day. What you need depends on your health and the type of diabetes you have. Your healthcare provider can tell you if you need to use medicine to treat your diabetes.

  • Talk to your doctor before you change or stop taking your diabetes medicines.
  • People with type 1 diabetes must use 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. 

What You Can Do About Side Effects

Diabetes medicines do not act the same in each person. 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 healthcare 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 current safety information about your medicine.
  • Report serious problems with your medicines.You or your doctor can tell the FDA about serious problems with your medicines. Report online or call FDA at 1-800-332-1088 to request a form.

Diabetes Medicines

Different kinds of diabetes medicines are shown below. These medicines are most often used to treat type 2 diabetes. The brand names and other names are given for each medicine. There are also some tips about each kind of diabetes medicine. Ask your healthcare provider to tell you the best way to take your medicines. They can also tell you about your medicine’s side effects and warnings. This guide does not give all side effects or warnings for each medicine.


Meglitinides

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

Brand Name Other 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

  • Hypoglycemia (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 Name Other 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.


Thiazolidinediones

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

Brand Name Other Name
Actos pioglitazone
Avandia rosiglitazone

Some Things To Think About

  • Before you start taking these drugs, tell your doctor if you have heart failure.
  • These medicines may raise your chance of having a broken bone (fracture).
  • Before you take Actos, tell your doctor if you are a premenopausal women (before the "change of life") who does not have periods regularly or at all. Actosmay increase your chance of becoming pregnant. Talk to your doctor about birth control choices while taking Actos.

Common Side Effects

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

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 Name Other Name
Januvia sitagliptin
Onglyza saxagliptin
Nesina alogliptin
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

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

Brand Name Other Name
Amaryl glimepiride
Diabeta
Glynase
glyburide
Diabinese chlorpropamide
Glucotrol
Glucotrol XL
(extended release)
glipizide
No brand name tolbutamide
No brand name 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.


Biguanides

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 Name Other Name
Fortamet metformin
Glucophage metformin
Glucophage XR (extended release) metformin
Glumetza metformin
Riomet metformin

Some Things To Think About

  • Talk to your doctor about your kidney health before you start and while you are taking this type of medicine.
  • 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 (acid to build up in the blood).

Common Side Effects

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

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 Name Other Name
Cycloset bromocriptine

Some Things To Think About

  • Do not take this medicine if you are breastfeeding.

Common Side Effects

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Feel Very 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 Name Other 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
  • Dyspepsia (upset stomach/indigestion)
  • Nausea

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


 SGLT2 Inhibitors

How do they work? These pills affect the kidney to increase the amount of sugar that goes out in the urine.

 Brand Name  Other Name
Farxiga dapagliflozin
Invokana canagliflozin
Jardiance empagliflozin
Steglatro ertugliflozin

 Some Things to Think About

  • Do not take these drugs if you have severe kidney problems or are on dialysis.
  • Before you take these drugs, tell your doctor if you have kidney or liver problems.

Common Side Effects

  • Vaginal Yeast Infections
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Changes in Urination 

 Combination Medicines

Brand Name Other Name
ActoPlus Met
ActoPlus Met XR (extended release)
pioglitazone and metformin
Avandamet rosiglitazone and metformin
Avandaryl rosiglitazone and glimepiride
Duetact pioglitazone and glimepiride
Glucovance glyburide and metformin
Glyxambi  empagliflozin and linagliptin
Invokamet
Invokamet XR (extended release)
canagliflozin and metformin
Janumet
Janumet XR (extended release)
sitagliptin and metformin
Jentadueto  linagliptin and metformin
Kazano alogliptin and metformin
Kombiglyze
Kombiglyze XR (extended release)
saxagliptin and metformin
Metaglip glipizide and metformin
Oseni alogliptin and metformin
PrandiMet repaglinide and metformin
Xigduo XR dapagliflozin and metformin

Some Things to Think About

  • These combinations are made up of two kinds of medicines. The side effects depend on which two medicines are in the pill.
  • Ask your healthcare provider for the facts about the combination drug you are taking.  

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


GLP-1 Receptor Agonists

These are medicines that you inject under your skin. These medicines should not be used instead of insulin.

Brand Name Other Name
Adlyxin  lixisenatide
Bydureon exenatide
Byetta exenatide
Ozempic  semaglutide
Tanzeum albiglutide
Trulicity dulaglutide
Victoza liraglutide

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.
  • Some people feel nauseous when they first start taking these medicines.

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


Amylin Analog

This is a medicine that you inject under your skin. This medicine should not be used instead of insulin.

 Brand Name  Other Name
 Symlin  pramlintide acetate

Some Things to Think About

  • People who use insulin can also use Symlin.
  • People with type 1 diabetes can also use Symlin.
  • Symlin should be taken in a separate injection. Do not mix Symlin and isulin in the same injection.
  • This medicine is usually taken before meals.
  • Some people feel nauseous when they first start taking this medicine. 

My Diabetes Medicines

Medicine Name How Much Do I Take? When Do I Take It? Important Facts
       
       
       
       
       

 

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

  • How will my medicines affect my blood sugar? 
  • Will it affect my other medicines?
  • What are the side effects?
  • What do I do if I start having side effects?
  • What should I do if I am pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breastfeeding?
  • What else should I know about my diabetes medicines?

Sign Up for a Pregnancy Registry

Pregnancy Exposure Registries are research studies that collect information from women who take prescription medicines or vaccines during pregnancy. Pregnancy registries can help women and their doctors learn more about how diabetes medicines affect women during pregnancy.

The FDA does not run pregnancy studies, but it keeps a list of registries. Check to see if there is a registry for your diabetes medicine or other medicines at: www.fda.gov/pregnancyregistries


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

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