What is the medication glyburide used for?

Diabetes is certainly not a new disease. Since it is so widespread, you are probably aware of at least one member of your family or a friend’s family that suffers from this. Globally, 422 million individuals are thought to suffer with diabetes. One in five adults in Malaysia alone has diabetes. Regrettably, complications from diabetes claim the lives of 1.5 million people annually. 65% of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. Common complications such as heart disease, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage and vision problems can be prevented by taking antidiabetic medicine such as glyburide.

Glyburide or glibenclamide belong to the drug class of sulfonylurea. Glyberide works by lowering blood sugar through stimulation of pancreas to release insulin. This medication will only help in lowering blood sugar levels in the body that produce insulin. Hence, glyburide is often used to treat diabetes type 2 and not for type 1. This is because type 1 diabetes is a condition where high levels of blood sugar occur resulting from the inability of the body to produce insulin.

Insulin is an essential hormone that controls blood sugar levels to regulate how cells and tissues absorb energy, therefore managing the body’s energy supply. Insulin is produced by the pancreas. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells—liver, muscle, and fat cells in particular—cannot use blood glucose for energy expenditure and do not react to insulin. Insulin resistance leads to the pancreas producing more insulin but since the body is unable to utilise it, insulin will not be used by the body efficiently and causes increased blood sugar level. Thus, insulin resistance is linked with type 2 diabetes. However, insulin resistance is not only associated with type 2 diabetes but also is associated with other metabolic diseases such as obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol.

Glyburide is used alongside diet and exercise. In general, the first treatment of diabetes is lifestyle modification such as exercise and diet. In most cases, lifestyle changes itself are insufficient to keep the blood sugar level on optimal level. Thus, antidiabetic medication such as glyburide may be given instead to achieve the targeted blood sugar level. At times, patients may use other antidiabetic drugs combined with glyburide.

Glyburide comes in different types of tablets which provide different dosage. This medication is usually taken once a day with breakfast or the first main meal of the day. It is worth noting that in some cases, patients might be asked to take glyburide twice a day. To help remember taking it on a daily basis, try to take it around the same time everyday. It is important to take glyburide exactly as directed by doctors. Never take more or less than what is prescribed by the doctor.

Doctors often start glyburide on a low dose before gradually increasing the dose if needed. Patients may need to take other kinds of antidiabetic drugs if glyburides are unable to control blood sugar. Doctors may adjust the dose of medication as much as needed before the right medication with its effective dose is known and work for the patient. If patients are taking other medication for other medical conditions, it is best to let the doctor know to avoid possible adverse drug interaction.

Beside taking medicine, management of diabetes includes making lifestyle changes to get better control of blood glucose. This includes doing regular physical activity, practising healthy eating habits, losing body weight of at least 5 to 10% of total body weight and managing stress by having enough rest plus relaxation techniques. Diabetes outcomes are significantly influenced by diabetes monitoring as well. It is recommended to use a blood glucose meter to continuously monitor blood sugar levels and to schedule routine physical examinations, eye exams, and podiatric visits. Doctors will usually let you know how many times a day a person needs to check their blood glucose level as this depends on the treatment plans they are currently on.

Glyburide, just as with any other drug, does have potential side effects. It is important to note that doctors will always prescribe medication that brings benefits for patients and outweigh the side effects. Weight gain and hypoglycemia are frequent side effects. The symptoms of hypoglycemia include trembling, lightheadedness, hunger, and perspiration. However, hypoglycemia could happen if a patient takes this drug in addition to other antidiabetic drugs, if they take it right after engaging in strenuous physical activity, or if they don’t consume enough calories during the day. Patients should always carry sweets or glucose tablets in their hands at all times. Patients should also make sure to have proper meals regularly throughout the day to avoid risk for hypoglycemia. After a hypoglycemic event, the patient should let their doctor know so that doctors can re-evaluate and advise on what is best for the patient.

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