Diabetes medicine side effects

Diabetes is one of the most common conditions around the world as well as with many serious complications. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and even lead to death. Hence, it is important to test for diabetes and start treatment during its early onset. This reduces the chances of being affected by serious symptoms and complications. Medication is an effective form of treatment for diabetes. It has so many advantages and has helped treat diabetes in so many patients. However, there are certain side effects to these medications as well as not going well with other medications. 

Are there any side effects of diabetes medication? Read on to understand.

side effects of diabetes medication

Diabetes medicine side effects: An Analysis

Side effects are unwanted complications caused by medicines. Usually, some types of medicines include symptoms like nausea, upset stomach etc. Usually, the side effects of diabetes medication are only temporary and doctors usually suggest how to overcome these side effects. 

The side effects of diabetes medication also depend on the way each medicine interacts with other medications. 


Examples: Metformin (Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Glumetza, Fortamet, Riomet)

It reduces blood sugar by improving the way the body uses insulin. Some of the side effects of it are: 

  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea

side effects of diabetes medication

  • B12 deficiency
  • Sickness with alcohol
  • Metallic taste
  • Examples: Glipizide (Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL), glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Sometimes can lead to serious conditions like lactic acidosis, which occurs when too much lactic acid builds up in the blood and leads to a very low pH of the blood.


This type of drugs reduces blood sugar levels by aiding the pancreas in secreting more insulin. The most common symptoms are low blood sugar ( hypoglycemia ) and weight gain. Some of the symptoms of this kind of diabetes medicine side effects include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Skin rash
  • Liver diseases
  • Low blood sugar
  • Weight gain


Examples : nateglinide (Starlix), repaglinide (Prandin).

Meglitinides help the pancreas secrete more insulin. The side effects of diabetes medication like this usually include:

  • Low blood sugar
  • Weight gain

Thiazolidinediones (TZDs): 

Examples : Pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia)

TZDs improve the way the body uses insulin i.e. enhance insulin sensitivity. Some of the side effects of diabetes medication like these are:

  • Weight gain
  • Swelling of legs/ankles
  • Increased LDL “bad” cholesterol levels
  • Anaemia risk
  • Risk of heart failure
  • Increased risk of bladder cancer in women

side effects of diabetes medication

  • Risk of liver disease
  • Increased risk of fractures

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors: 

Example: Acarbose (Precose,) miglitol (Glyset)

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are prescribed to be taken with the first bite of each meal. These drugs slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates. These drugs affect the digestion process, hence the side effects are related to it. The side effects of diabetes medication like these include:

  • Gas
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating

DPP-4 inhibitors: 

Example: alogliptin (Nesina),  linagliptin (Tradjenta), saxagliptin (Onglyza), Sitagliptin (Januvia)

DPP-4 inhibitors lower blood sugar levels by increasing the amount of insulin produced by the liver. The side effects of diabetes medication like these inhibitors are:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Upset stomach
  • hypoglycemia,
  • headache,
  • nasopharyngitis,
  • fluid retention,
  • hives,
  • urinary tract infections (UTIs), and
  • facial swelling
  • Increased risk of acute pancreatitis liver failure
  • Joint pain

SGLT2 inhibitors: 

Example: Canagliflozin (Invokana), dapagliflozin (Farxiga), empagliflozin (Jardiance),  ertugliflozin (Steglatro).

SGLT2 inhibitors ( sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors ) work in the kidneys and decrease blood sugar level by causing more glucose to be eliminated through urine. It increases urinary glucose excretion. The side effects of diabetes medication like these include:

  • Yeast infections
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Increased cholesterol
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Bladder cancer
  • Decreased blood pressure ( hypotension )
  • Hypersensitivity reactions

Bile acid sequestrants:

Example:  colesevelam (Welchol)

This drug lowers blood cholesterol levels, but it reduces blood sugar levels moderately only. It is likely for people with liver diseases. The possible side effects of diabetes medication like this drug are:

  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion

Injectable medication:

Amylin mimetics:

Example: Pramlintide (Symlin)

This medication helps lower blood sugar levels and slow down the digestion process, thus decreasing the rate of absorption of glucose. This is usually used with insulin injections. It also suppresses hunger and aids in moderate weight loss. The possible side effects of diabetes medication like this drug are:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Nausea or vomiting

Incretin mimetics (GLP – 1 analogs)

Example: Albiglutide (Tanzeum), Dulaglutide (Trulicity), Exenatide (Byetta), Exenatide extended-release (Bydureon), Liraglutide (Saxenda, Victoza), Lixisenatide (Adlyxin), Semaglutide (Ozempic, Rybelsus)

This drug stimulates the release of insulin. It is taken along with metformin, basal insulin or sulfonylurea. This medication, similar to amylin mimetic, also suppresses hunger and leads to moderate weight loss. The side effects of diabetes medication like this include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Increased risk of pancreatitis, a condition in which the pancreas is inflamed
  • Increased risk of thyroid tumours

side effects of diabetes medication

Diabetes Medicine Side Effects: Clash with other drugs

Doctors can sometimes change the dosage or the medication itself when the interactions between them and other medications might cause unnecessary complications. It is necessary to make the doctor aware of the other medications taken. If you are consuming any of the following medications, your doctor might change your medication:

  • Salicylic acid
  • Some antidepressants like fluoxetine and monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Certain antibiotics such as isoniazid and sulfonamide
  • Fibrates
  • High blood pressure medicines like ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blocking agents
  • Cholesterol-lowering agents like niacin
  • Propoxyphene, pentoxifylline and somatostatin analogs
  • Corticosteroids
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Estrogen
  • Diuretics
  • Phenothiazines
  • Danazol (Danocrine)
  • Protease inhibitors
  • Glucagon
  • Thyroid medication

Diabetic medications are essential to maintain the blood sugar level at the desired range, along with a healthy diet and active lifestyle. However, the side effects of diabetes medication are dangerous and sometimes even fatal. Therefore, it is crucial to make the doctor aware of all the prevailing medical conditions and other medications before he writes the prescription. 

We at Twin believe in treating type 2 diabetes without medicines in the long run and have been successful in doing so by accurately diagnosing the root cause of Diabetes and treating them through precision nutrition, precision sleep and precision activities recommended to you through the Digital Twin technology interface. 

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