Guest Blog: Serious Side Effects of Diabetes Medications

Friday 15 June 2012

The majority of the 25 million people with diabetes in the United States treat their condition with oral medications. Oral drugs are usually used to help people with type 2 diabetes make better use of the insulin their bodies still produce. People with type 2 diabetes make up about 95 percent of diabetes cases.

Taking medication to treat type 2 diabetes comes with a particular set of serious side effects. The different drugs work by affecting the liver, pancreas or stomach in some way. Just about all of these drugs come with the danger of hypoglycemia — excessively low blood sugar.

If the pills are taken in higher amounts than they should be, or used without food, they can be dangerous. The most extreme cases of hypoglycemia will cause convulsions, coma and hypothermia.

Hypoglycemia is the possible side effect shared by just about every diabetes drug. Depending on the way drugs work on the body, they usually have their own set of specific side effects. Details on individual drug warnings can be found on the full prescribing information that comes with the drug.

There are some hazardous side effects of Actos that everyone should be aware of. It increases the risk of bladder cancer by 83 percent. It also makes people 30 percent more likely to have heart failure. The drug's chemical name is called pioglitazone. It works on the liver and cells of the body by slowing sugar output by the liver and sensitizing cells to insulin.

The sensitizing effect Actos has on cells is unique to pioglitazone and another popular diabetes drug called metformin. The specific way Actos works may be the reason for its many dangers. Since 2007, researchers have been discovering bad reactions from the drug in patients.

Actos has received the black-box warning label. It's the Food and Drug Administration's harshest warning. The warning was issued for the congestive heart failure, as well as Actos bladder cancer side effects.

Actos also doubles the risk of bone fractures in older women. It makes people three to six times more likely to get an eye disorder called macular edema that causes blindness.

Many other type 2 diabetes drugs can affect the heart, liver or kidneys, but few of them have the laundry list of bad reactions and the black-box warning Actos does. With Actos and other drugs, side effects usually develop when the medicine is used for a long time.

When selecting a type 2 diabetes drug, it's a good practice to read the full prescribing information to learn about side effects and possible alternatives. Patients and doctors should decide together which medicine is the best choice.
William Richards researches and writes about prescription drugs and medical devices for

Disclaimer: This article is contributed by a Guest Blogger. Ping of Health does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this article. Ping of Health disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.