Byetta Side Effects – Common and Rare

Byetta Side Effects

Approved just recently in 2005, Byetta joined other incretin mimetics in a group of injectable drugs that are used to manage Type 2 diabetes. While most diabetes medications aside from insulin are taken orally, Byetta is injected into parts of the body such as the arm, thigh, or abdomen twice a day before breakfast and dinner. Although many diabetes medications work in one or two different ways either to reduce the cells’ sensitivity to insulin or inhibit production of glucose, Byetta is different because it works in multiple ways – five to be exact. While this means that managing diabetes can be a much more complex process with greater chances of success and achieving normal blood sugar levels, it also creates a much more complex environment that can give way to Byetta side effects.

This is furthered by the fact that Byetta is most often used alongside other types of medications used in Type 2 diabetes treatment. A person taking metformin, for instance, or pioglitazone, may also take Byetta. This drug combination has proven to be immensely successful as a Type 2 diabetes treatment in many individuals, however the fact that the drug has to be injected instead of taken orally combined with the risk of Byetta side effects make it still a relatively uncommon form of treatment. The side effects of this medication in conjunction with the oral medications it is typically taken alongside can pose larger problems than one medication on its own.

Before being able to understand Byetta side effects, it is important to have a basic understanding of the numerous ways in which the drug is used to reduce elevated blood sugar levels. First, it helps to control the pancreas in terms of insulin secretion, which is extremely useful after meals. Additionally and also related to post meal elevated blood sugar levels, Byetta is also used to keep the liver from producing unneeded sugar following a meal. Digestive related benefits to blood glucose are furthered by Byetta, which can reduce the body’s speed of gastric emptying therefore slowing the process of glucose derived from food from entering the bloodstream. The drug has also been show to reduce the content of fat in the liver and reduce appetite for prolonged periods of time, leading to healthier weight loss which can positively impact elevated blood sugar levels.

All of these medicinal benefits are substantial and have made the medical community take notice. However, the sheer number of physiological processes and parts that the drug effects make determining the numerous Byetta side effects a bit more challenging. Like many other types of medications used to manage Type 2 diabetes blood sugar levels, Byetta does tend to cause gastrointestinal side effects that can include indigestion, nausea, vomiting, belching, and diarrhea. However, unlike many other antidiabetic medications, Byetta side effects can also include dizziness, jittery sensations and headaches. Most side effects associated with the medication are mild and may dissipate over time, however some can be more serious, rare and even speculative in nature.

One of the perhaps strangest side effects of Byetta may actually have to do with the fact that it lowers blood glucose in the first place. Byetta is used alongside other diabetes medications in order to attempt to restore glucose to a blood sugar levels normal range. The drug in Byetta does not cause these glucose levels to go too low; however, when used with other medications as Byetta often is, hypoglycemia can and does occur. When this happens, the symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can present including shakiness, tiredness, dizziness, tingling, blurry vision and hunger. Because the drug does not directly cause hypoglycemia or its symptoms, it cannot really be said that the condition is included among Byetta side effects. However, when the drug is combined and medicine dosages are not properly aligned, it may occur.

There are rare and serious side effects associated with the use of Byetta. Most medications carry a small but still existent risk of serious, long term or even fatal complications. In terms of serious Byetta side effects, there is still some debate on just how much evidence there is to support their risk. An increased risk of developing thyroid cancer has been associated with the drug, according to the FDA which launched a small investigation into the phenomenon once observed in a lab environment. Additionally, a handful of accounts prompted the relabeling of Byetta to include an increased risk of pancreatitis, a very serious health condition.

Like all medications, Byetta is prescribed when its benefits have been deemed more important than the risks the drug may carry. It is almost never used alone – rather alongside other antidiabetic medicines – although it is being evaluated further given its successful treatment track record. Perhaps as important as medication however is to remember that following diabetic diet guidelines, increasing physical activity, regularly monitoring blood sugar and practicing weight management are all as important as the medicines being taken. Additionally, regular and supportive care from a physician is imperative for long term success in treating diabetes.