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What You Should Know About Glyburide & Weight Loss

What You Should Know About Glyburide & Weight Loss

What is Glyburide?

Glyburide (otherwise known as glibenclamide) is a type of diabetes medicine that has insulin-releasing properties. It has been approved by FDA for the management of type II diabetes. This drug belongs to a class of oral hypoglycemic agents called sulfonylureas. Chemically, this drug is closely related to sulfonamide antibiotics. The drug functions as insulin secretagogues to promote insulin release from the pancreas (or more specifically, the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans). In general, the drug is only effective when beta cells have not been completely exhausted. This medication works best when diabetes is first diagnosed (when the body still produces insulin).

Managing weight gain

While generally well tolerated and safe, glyburide may cause side effects such as hypoglycemia. Apart form that, the drug may also cause weight gain. Patients that are obese or overweight prior to treatment are especially affected.  If poorly managed, weight gain can potentially lead to other complications such as circulatory issues. Once started on glyburide, patients are advised to lose weight through lifestyle modification. As recommended by the American Diabetes Association, patients should exercise regularly and have a balanced, healthy diet. Apart from counteracting the side effect, weight loss may enhance the actions of glyburide, helping it to work more effectively. This may also reduce the dose of glyburide needed. Furthermore, weight loss is known to prevent the progression of type II diabetes. Studies by the Harvard Medical School has suggested that a 5% to 10% reduction of the body weight has a positive effect on diabetes control.

What to do if you gain weight

As with all other medications, glyburide should be used exactly as prescribed. Poor medication adherence may lead to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Subsequently, this may lead a range of symptoms such as drowsiness, fruity breath odor, dry mouth, hunger, increased urination and increased thirst. Additionally, patients may also experience weight gain. If weight gain occurs due to a recent dose change, patients should tell their doctor immediately. While highly effective in managing type II diabetes, glyburide (which inherently comes with a risk of weight gain) may eventually worsen the condition without the implementation of appropriate lifestyle modifications. Therefore, it is important to achieve weight loss though dietary change and exercise while using the drug. Weight loss in combination with drug use is the key to successful diabetes management.

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