More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, and that number grows by approximately 1.4 million each year.
We all know someone who has diabetes. Many of us have family members who have been diagnosed. In the past, children who had diabetes had Type 1. Type 2 diabetes occurred during adulthood. Today, children eat snacks and processed foods that are high in simple carbs. They also lead less active lives. This has resulted in an increasing number of children being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes than ever before.
The Most Common Diabetes Medication and What It Can Do
Many people who develop diabetes don’t even realize they have the disease. Of those who are diagnosed, most will be given one or more types of diabetes medications. Some drugs help the body become more sensitive to insulin. Others help the body make more insulin on its own.
Metformin is usually the first medication prescribed to treat Type 2 diabetes. Sometimes this drug is prescribed as a preventive measure for patients who are considered “borderline” diabetics. Metformin is considered the safest choice in diabetic medication. Even so, it can cause severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, slow or irregular heartbeat, vomiting, muscle pain, fatigue, and drowsiness.
Advanced Drugs Hold an Even Greater Risk of Side Effects
Modern medications designed to treat diabetes include:
- Sulfonylureas, which help your body produce more insulin. These drugs can cause low blood sugar, hunger and weight gain, dark-colored urine, upset stomach, and skin reactions.
- Meglitinides, which stimulate the pancreas to increase insulin production but with faster acting results than with sulfonylureas. This class of drugs can cause joint pain, back pain, headache, cold or flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, nausea, and temporary hair loss.
- GLP-1 receptor agonists slow digestion to reduce blood sugar. These drugs have minimal impact, so they are usually used in combination with other diabetes drugs. GLP-1 medications can lead to severe gastrointestinal side effects.
- Thiazolidinediones, which increase insulin sensitivity. These drugs are linked to an increase in the risk of fractures and heart failure. Other side effects include stomach pain, painful urination and/or blood in the urine, shortness of breath, swelling, chest pain, rapid weight gain, and the feeling of being ill.
- DPP-4 inhibitors, which lower blood sugar levels minimally. These medications can cause flu-like symptoms, gastrointestinal problems, and painful skin reactions.
- SGLT2 inhibitors, which cause sugar to be excreted in the urine rather than being absorbed by the kidneys. This class of drugs can cause urinary tract infections, upper respiratory tract infections, an increase in low-density cholesterol, increased urination, diabetic ketoacidosis, hypoglycemia, and genital yeast infections.
- Insulin, which is used less frequently for patients with Type 2 diabetes than with Type 1. Insulin is usually considered a last resort in treating patients with Type 2 diabetes. The potential side effects include severe hypoglycemia which can result in coma, seizures, permanent neurological deficits, cardiac arrhythmia, and death.
Invokana Diabetes Drug Gets Black Box Warning for Amputation Risks
There is more to worry about than the known side effects of a drug. The SGLT-2 drug Invokana is a perfect example of the true dangers of diabetes drugs. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has given the drug a Black Box Warning for the increased risk of leg and foot amputations associated with the drug’s use.
Research Repeatedly Shows Diabetes Drugs More Dangerous Than the Disease
Diabetes drugs work differently, but they are all designed to treat the outward signs of the disease. Research and real-life case studies have repeatedly shown that eating a healthy diet, staying active, and correcting the root causes are the best way to prevent and address type 2 diabetes. Diabetes drugs, on the other hand, can cause severe side-effects while only treating the symptoms.