Friday, 1 June 2012

Guest Blog Post: The Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Medications

Being entirely honest, I don't know a great deal about type 2 diabetes.  My grandma has it and I know the most common causes of it - I've heard of a few medications too.  However, before being sent Barb Stephen's article, I really didn't realise just how important it was to ensure that type 2 diabetics receive the right medication to suit them!  I guess it's just like type 1's being on the right insulin.  Thank you to for asking me to feature this blog post, it's really interesting!

The Risks of Type 2 Diabetes Medication

As you work with your doctor to determine your appropriate blood-sugar level, and diet and exercise requirements, you will want to make sure you choose the right medication with full knowledge of the risks of each one.

Type 2 diabetes patients can choose from a variety of drugs to help maintain blood sugar. Properly managing blood sugar can help to keep you from experiencing painful diabetes complications like heart attack, kidney damage, blindness and amputations.

Unfortunately, with most diabetes drugs you can expect some weight gain and also stomach pain, nausea, gas and diarrhea.  Over time, the frequency and severity of these side effects often decreases. 

If you have a pre-existing condition, there are some diabetes drugs that you should avoid altogether. Be aware of which symptoms to watch for.

Biguanides can cause lactic acidosis, which is associated with a low pH level and can be life-threatening.

Be aware of side effects like feeling weak, tired, dizzy or very cold; difficulty breathing; unusual muscle or stomach pain; or a change in the speed and steadiness of your heartbeat.

If you drink excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages, you may not want to take a biguanide.

Thiazolidinediones can cause heart failure, eye problems, weak bones and bladder cancer. Bladder cancer symptoms may include blood in the urine, an increased need to urinate and pain during urination.

Actos is part of the thiazolidinedione family of drugs. Patients who take Actos for more than a year face a 40 percent increased risk of developing bladder cancer. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed by patients who suffered complications from taking Actos. In most cases an Actos lawsuit was filed after receiving the prognosis of bladder cancer.

Sulfonylureas may increase the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease. 

If you have kidney or liver disease, sulfonylureas may be the best type 2 diabetes medication. If you are allergic to sulfa drugs, do not take sulfonylureas.

Meglitinides should be taken right before meals to avoid the possibility of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

DPP-4 Inhibitors occasionally increase the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, which occurs when the body cannot break down sugar but instead breaks down fat.  It can lead to severe illness or death.

Be aware of side effects like deep, rapid breathing, dry skin and mouth, flushed face, nausea and vomiting, and stomach pain. 

Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors should not be used if you have bowel disease or other intestinal conditions.

As with any medication, speak to your doctor if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant. 

Once you have worked with your doctor to determine the right medication for you, take time to ask your doctor any questions you have, read articles on your medication to inform yourself about risks such as Actos side effects and other warnings that come with your medications.
Always follow the instructions concerning the best time to take your medications, as blood-sugar levels change throughout the day based on food intake and energy expended. 
Remember, the right medication should improve, not impair, your health.

Author bio: Barb Stephens is a writer for She uses her knowledge of medications to help consumers learn about potential risks involved with certain medications and to help promote overall drug safety.