What is Actos (Pioglitazone)?

Actos also known as pioglitazone, is a prescription drug that belongs to a class of medicine known as thiazolidinedione. Your doctor may prescribe pioglitazone alone or in combination with other medications to treat type 2 diabetes. Actos is used in combination with other medications so that it can effectively control your blood glucose levels. This drug improves the action of the insulin hormone, so that it can properly control blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetic patients.

Actos Side Effects

Just like any other drug, Actos can lead to unwanted effects, which may occur once you start taking the medication, if the dose is increased, or if you suddenly stop taking it. A couple of the undesired effects are serious and may require your doctor’s intervention, whereas others are mild or minor and will clear after a few weeks or even days.

Serious Side Effects:

  • Macular edema – An eye disease characterized by swelling in the back of the eye. A diabetic patient on Actos should notify the doctor if one experiences changes in vision. Visit an ophthalmologist frequently for eye exams to be done.
  • Broken bones – Particularly on the hand or upper arm, women are at higher risk of bone breakage than men when taking this medication.
  • Bladder cancer – Taking pioglitazone may increase the chance of bladder cancer. Contact your physician if you experience painful urination or blood in your urine.
  • Liver problems – Characterized by stomach pain, loss of appetite, unusual tiredness and jaundice.

Minor Side Effects:

  • Sweating
  • Stomach pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Muscle pain
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Increased hunger, thirst, and urination

Warnings and Precautions

  1. If you are a woman of childbearing age, you will still be at risk of becoming pregnant even though your period may have stopped. Discuss your birth control options with your doctor.
  2. The medication can lead to serious heart problems, so check with your physician if you experience chest pain, rapid weight gain, shortness of breath, too much swelling on the hands, wrist, ankles or feet.
  3. Hyperglycemia may happen if the dose is inadequate or skipped, one overeats, the meal plan or exercise routine isn’t followed, or the patient has a fever due to infection.
  4. Don’t take Actos for a longer time than directed. Taking it for more than one year may put one at risk of developing bladder cancer or other health issues.
  5. Low or high glucose levels may trigger blurred vision, dizziness, and drowsiness. Thus, don’t take part in any activity which requires one to be alert or clear vision like driving or using machinery.
  6. During pregnancy, the medication should only be used if the need arises, although it’s not known if it can cause harm to the fetus.


Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.