Type 2 Diabetes

Sulfonylureas Help Treat Types 2 Diabetes

Sulfonylureas are a category of oral medications used to treat Type 2 Diabetes. Studies reveal that this category of medications can lower blood sugar levels by as much as 20%. They are the oldest medications being used to treat Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, they have been in use since 1955.

Insulin is the hormone that helps move the sugar from the blood stream to the cells. The insulin from the cells is used to produce energy for various purposes. Diabetes is caused primarily due to two reasons - insufficient production of insulin and body's incapability to use the produced insulin.

Sulfonylureas rectify the causes and moderate the production of insulin in the body. They not just stimulate the beta cells to produce more insulin but also enhance its utilization. However, this category of medications cannot work as a substitute to insulin. It is for this reason that it cannot be used to treat Type 1 Diabetes.

Ideally, Sulfonylureas need to be taken once or twice daily. The dosage varies from one individual to the other depending upon the severity of the condition. While some patients may use this medication alone, there are others who use it in conjunction with insulin or other oral medications.

Safety concerns
Though Sulfonylureas are effective in lowering blood sugar, they may lead to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels. However, this happens only in certain cases. Some conditions that may lead to low blood sugar level on using the medication include:
* consuming more than one diabetes medication at a time
* missing meals while using the medicine
* using long acting Sulfonylureas when dealing with kidney or heart disease
* consuming the medicine immediately after rigorous exercise

This category of medication may also lead to various other side effects such as abnormalities in the liver, stomach upset and increased sensitivity to light. It can also cause low blood salt, also known as Hypnoatremia.  

Precautions and contraindications

* Those who are allergic to sulfonamides or any other sulfa drugs, should avoid taking this medication altogether.
* Patients who are undergoing any kind of physical stress such as injury or surgery should avoid taking this medication completely.
* This category of medication should be temporarily stopped when the patient is not eating regularly.
* Sulfonylureas are relatively less effective after a heart attack.
* Avoid drinking alcohol while using this medication else it could result in flushing of skin.
* For this medication to be effective, it is important that you follow a healthy lifestyle. This medicine works best when your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are in control.