Learn about what sulfonylureas are, their impact on people with diabetes, and precautions when taking them.
Sulfonylureas are a group of medicines (pills) used to treat type 2 diabetes. They are usually taken twice a day with a meal, but this can vary depending on the regimen that your doctor has prescribed for you. With type 2 diabetes, the body doesn't make enough insulin and doesn’t use the hormone insulin properly, leading to elevated blood glucose levels. Sulfonylureas work to help the pancreas release more insulin. Some commonly prescribed sulfonylureas include:
- DiaBeta, Glynase, or Micronase (glyburide or glibenclamide)
- Amaryl (glimepiride)
- Glucotrol (glipizide)
Sulfonylureas are often taken in combination with other medicines, especially the drug metformin.
Side Effects of Sulfonylureas
The most common side effect of sulfonylureas is hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). Signs of hypoglycemia include sweating, dizziness, confusion or nervousness.
Other side effects of Sulfonylureas are:
- Weight gain
- Skin reactions
- Upset stomach
- Take Sulfonylureas with food, preferably right before you begin eating unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
- Sulfonylureas typically cause changes in your blood glucose levels. You should know the symptoms of high and low blood glucose, and what to do if you experience them.
- Alcohol may worsen certain side effects of sulfonylureas. Limit or avoid drinking alcohol while taking these medicines.
- Tell your doctor if you're pregnant or might become pregnant while taking a sulfonylurea since it is not recommended to continue use during pregnancy.
- Talk to your healthcare provider before taking sulfonylureas if you're breastfeeding.