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Side Effects of Diabetes Medication

Updated at: Apr 11, 2012
Written by: Aparna MirPublished at: Mar 27, 2012
Side Effects of Diabetes Medication

Diabetes medications are needed to check diabetes, but they cause numerous side effects too. These side effects can prove fatal if ignored or left undetected.

Side Effects of Diabetes MedicationThere are various medications available to treat diabetes. These medications are strong enough to control the insulin production, but they cause many side effects as well. If their side effects are overlooked, they can even lead to death of the patient.

The diabetes medications are generally designed to increase the sensitivity of the body towards insulin action. The most common types of medications used to cure diabetes are sulfonylureas, biguanides, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, thiazolidinediones and meglitinides. All these drugs show different side effects.


Sulfonylureas are oral drugs used to cure diabetes. These drugs cause sudden lowering of the blood sugar level (hypoglycaemia) resulting in weakness, sweating and tremors. They also cause weight gain, headache and even digestive problems. Higher dosage of these drugs affects the functioning of liver and kidneys as well.



Biguanides control the production of glucose, thereby maintaining blood glucose level.  The most common side effects of biguanides are diarrhoea and vomiting. The drug also causes kidney problems and increased level of lactate in blood (lactic acidosis).

Alpha-glucosidase Inhibitors

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors prevent the metabolism of carbohydrates, thus maintaining the sugar amount in the blood. As this drug prevents the digestion of carbohydrates, the remaining carbohydrates are acted upon by bacteria causing gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhoea, intestinal cramps, bloating and gas formation.



Thiazolidinediones enhance the sensitivity of body cells towards insulin. These drugs cause serious side effects such as heart failure and increase the water retention resulting in oedema. This causes swelling of legs, feet and ankles. Patients taking these drugs are very prone to develop coronary heart diseases and strokes. They also affect the functioning of liver enzymes causing jaundice, vomiting and stomach pain.


Meglitinides are used to enhance the production of insulin by pancreas which significantly lowers the blood sugar level. The side effects of meglitinides include weight gain, obesity and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar level). It also causes upper respiratory tract infection and persistent headache.

Diabetes medications are helpful to control the disease if taken in the prescribed way. It is always advisable to take proper consultation from your doctor before taking any such medications. These drugs are strong and can cause serious health problems if taken in an uncontrolled manner.


Read more articles on Diabetes Causes and Risks.


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