Sugar Matters
October 5, 2007
Myths, facts about diabetes Pt:6

Myth #6-”Diabetes medicines make you sick and have too many side effects”-perhaps, perhaps not.

Dearest Vincies, do not use this as an excuse not to take your medicines. Please….{{more}}

First of all, ALL medications can have side effects-natural medicines, too, remember. Many foods themselves have what you can call “side effects”. Grapefruit for example, is a healthy fruit, everyone can generally agree. Did you know that grapefruit is a natural diuretic meaning that it can make you urinate? You can call that a side effect. I am sure if your doctor gave you a pill for something else and then said, by the way this can make you pee, you would call it a side effect then, right? So let’s just be honest and admit that when it comes to pills, we are generally more critical and suspicious. The main goal for you and your doctor is to find a medication that gives you the desired effects/benefits with minimal undesired bad effects. As they say, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.

That being said, I am perfectly comfortable saying, yes, many diabetes medications do have possible side effects. Not everyone has problems and many people do not have ANY problems with the medicines. Some people do, and those are the ones you hear about. Upset stomach is a common side effect, as well as blood sugars going too low, but this often has to do with the dose you are taking. You will hear about possible liver disease with some of the medications, and this is true, but it happens rarely. If you are at risk for some particular side effects, which your doctor should know ahead of time, he/she will monitor you more carefully with blood tests or will simply chose a different medication. For example, if you have certain liver problems, there are several medications you should not take, and your doctor will know to avoid them. We are at a good time in history because we have many options for treating diabetes.

I agree that hearing about bad side effects is scary, but you also need to take the numbers into consideration. If everybody in St.Vincent ate the same pelau one day and one person got sick and ended up in the hospital, chances are you would not think to avoid pelau the next time, because it was just one person out of so many thousands, correct? But if 100 people got sick, then you would think about it carefully, and if 1000 people were sick, you would think REALLY hard about having that pelau again. Now if that pelau were the only food you could eat, you would weigh those chances differently, right?

Remember that these medications are to HELP YOU live longer and healthier, so if your chances of a serious side effect are very small, but the medicine lowers your chance of a heart attack, think carefully before you ignore those pills.

Anita Ramsetty, MD [email protected]
Medical Director Endocrine Care Group
Tel: 843-798-4227