Home Medicines Glimepiride: Effect, areas of application, side effects

Glimepiride: Effect, areas of application, side effects

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 181 views

Glimepiride is one of the most important treatments for type 2 diabetes by helping to increase the body’s release of the blood-sugar-lowering hormone insulin. The active ingredient is generally considered to be well tolerated, but in rare cases it can cause hypoglycaemia. Here you can read everything you need to know about the use of glimepiride, its effects and side effects!

This is how glimepiride works

Glimepiride is an active ingredient from the group of so-called sulfonylureas. It stimulates the body to release more insulin to lower blood sugar levels. This may be necessary for people with type 2 diabetes . You will only be prescribed blood-sugar-lowering medication such as glimepiride if other measures (change in diet, more exercise, etc.) have not been able to lower the blood-sugar level sufficiently.

Every cell in the body constantly needs energy to function properly. The most important source of energy are carbohydrates , which are supplied through food. In the digestive tract, they are broken down into their smallest building blocks (simple sugars), since only these can be absorbed into the blood through the intestinal wall.

In order for the sugar to be able to get from the blood into the body cells, the hormone insulin is needed. It “helps” sugar get inside cells. Too few insulin receptors on the cell surface or, in general, later on, too little insulin leads to the sugar remaining in the blood in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the long run, this increased blood sugar level damages the heart , kidneys, eyes and nerves, among other things. Possible consequences include cardiovascular diseases (such as coronary heart disease , heart attack), kidney dysfunction, vision problems and unpleasant to painful sensations due to nerve damage (neuropathy).

intake, degradation and excretion

After ingestion by mouth (oral), glimepiride is completely absorbed from the gut into the blood and distributed throughout the body. Finally, the active ingredient is broken down in the liver and excreted in the urine and stool. After an average of five to eight hours, half of the glimepiride is broken down.

When is glimepiride used?

The field of application (indication) of glimepiride is:

  • Treatment of type 2 diabetes when weight reduction, exercise and dietary changes have not adequately reduced high blood sugar levels

Since type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease, treatment is permanent.

How glimepiride is used

Glimepiride is used in tablet form. As a rule, one starts with a dose of one milligram per day. Depending on the individual metabolic situation, the doctor can increase the dose to a maximum of six milligrams per day.

The tablets are usually taken once a day. It should be taken before or with the first main meal of the day.

The full effect of the glimepiride application is reached after about one to two weeks.

Despite the use of diabetes medication, people with type 2 diabetes must continue to maintain a healthy body weight or lose excess weight, heed certain dietary advice and exercise regularly and sufficiently.

What are the side effects of glimepiride?

Rarely, i.e. in less than one percent of those treated, glimepiride causes side effects in the form of allergic reactions, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) , gastrointestinal problems and changes in the blood count.

During glimepiride therapy, diabetics should always have fast-acting carbohydrates (glucose syrup, fruit juices, sweetened drinks, etc.) to hand – in case of hypoglycaemia. Signs of this include dizziness, shaky hands, and a headache upon waking. If you have such symptoms, talk to your doctor about a possible adjustment of the glimepiride dosage.

Taking drugs that increase insulin release can lead to an increased feeling of hunger and an associated weight gain . It is therefore particularly important to pay attention to a healthy diet.

What should be considered when taking glimepiride?

Contraindications

Glimepiride should not be taken if:

interactions

Taking some other medicines at the same time can increase the blood-sugar-lowering effect of glimepiride. Examples of such drugs are:

  • Phenylbutazone (medicine against rheumatic diseases)
  • chloramphenicol (antibiotic)
  • Fibrates (agents used to lower high blood fat levels such as cholesterol)
  • ACE inhibitors (medicines for high blood pressure)

There are also medicines that can reduce the blood sugar-lowering effect of glimepiride. These include, among other things:

  • Preparations with female hormones (oestrogens)
  • cortisone (anti-inflammatory)
  • certain water tablets (thiazide diuretics)
  • adrenaline

Unpredictable interactions can also occur with alcohol. Experts therefore advise against the simultaneous consumption of alcohol.

Caution is also required if anticoagulants of the coumarin type (warfarin, phenprocoumon) are taken in addition to glimepiride.

Driving and using machines

Unexpected episodes of low blood sugar, which can lead to dizziness and fainting, can occur, especially at the beginning of treatment. It is therefore essential to pay attention to individual compatibility. It is best to discuss with a doctor whether you can actively drive and operate heavy machinery despite using glimepiride.

age restrictions

Type 2 diabetes usually only occurs in older people. Accordingly, there is very little data on the use of the drug in children and adolescents. Before use in patients in this age group, an experienced doctor should carry out a benefit-risk assessment.

pregnancy and breast feeding period

If you have gestational diabetes , oral antidiabetic drugs (such as glimepiride) will not be used. Instead, insulins that are injected are the first choice. If women with type 2 diabetes want to become pregnant, they switch to insulin beforehand.

It is not known whether glimepiride is excreted in human milk. Due to the high protein binding, however, a transition is unlikely. The administration of the drug therefore seems justifiable as long as the infant is well monitored. However, to be on the safe side, insulin is also the drug of first choice during breastfeeding if blood sugar reduction with medication is necessary.

How to get medicines containing glimepiride

Drugs with glimepiride require a prescription in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. You can therefore only get them with a prescription from the doctor in the pharmacy.

Since when is glimepiride known?

Sulfonylureas have long been used as blood sugar-lowering agents in diabetes. The further development of older representatives of this drug class led to the introduction of glimepiride in 1996. 

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