What are Sulfonylureas Drugs?

Sulfonylureas are a class of medications for people with type 2 diabetes. Along with a healthy diet and exercise plan, sulfonylureas can lower blood sugar by increasing the amount of insulin produced by your pancreas.

Suitable for children and young adults who are overweight or who have type 2 diabetes, Sulfonylureas are often prescribed in combination with other diabetes medications, particularly metformin.

Common Sulfonylureas Drugs List:

  1. Glucotrol (glipizide)
  2. DiaBeta, Glynase, or Micronase (glyburide or glibenclamide)
  3. Amaryl (glimepiride)
  4. Tolbutamide
  5. Tolinase (tolazamide)
  6. Diabinese (chlorpropamide)

Before taking a sulfonylurea, there are a few things you should know…

These medications are not suitable for treating type 1 diabetes, and should not be used if you have diabetic ketoacidosis. They may not be right for you if you have previously had problems with your liver or kidneys.

The side effects of Sulfonylureas may worsen if you consume alcohol while taking this medication. If possible, you should avoid or limit drinking alcohol while taking such medicines.

Sulfonylurea can cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight. You will need to take extra care to protect yourself against sun exposure to avoid a sunburn (especially when taking Tolbutamide or Tolazamide) or a skin rash (when taking Chlorpropamide).

It is not known whether sulfonylureas pass through breast milk or whether the medication can affect your unborn baby. So if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should tell your doctor before taking a Sulfonylurea.

If you take any other products, such as prescriptions, vitamins or other over-the-counter supplements, you should tell your doctor to make sure they are safe to take with a sulfonylureas.

You may wish to wear a diabetes ID tag, in case of emergency. You should also inform any health care provider that you are taking a Sulfonylureas before having any type of medical or dental procedure.

Sulfonylureas Side Effects

Like any type of prescription drug, sulfonylureas can cause some side effects, some of which can be serious. If you have any o these symptoms, please inform your health care practitioner or doctor as soon as possible:

  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

The drugs can affect blood sugar levels, causing drops and spikes. You should tell your doctor if at any point you become dizzy or lightheaded. Sulfonylureas could cause changes in your blood sugar levels, particularly if taken with alcohol. Your vision may get blurry, and your speech may become slurred. You may get headaches. Your heart rate may increase, causing you to feel shaky. You may feel anxious or irritable, tired or confused. Be sure to tell your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms since you may need to have your dose of sulfonamide adjusted.

  • Hives
  • Seizures
  • Severe allergic reactions

In some cases, you could have an allergic reaction to these class of medications.

Signs that you are having an allergic reaction are

  • swelling on your face
  • lips
  • tongue or throat.

If at any point you get a rash or itchy skin, or if you become short of breath or have trouble swallowing, stop taking this medication and seek emergency medical attention.

The most negative effects of this drug are

  • low blood sugar (see above)
  • increased appetite and weight gain
  • skin reactions
  • nausea
  • dark-colored urine.

These mild side effects do not usually require medical attention and should diminish as your body adjusts to the medication.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can worsen over time, so it is a good idea to book regular check-ups while taking a Sulfonylurea in case your dose or medication needs to be changed. Your doctor should monitor cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and urine sugar. Taking a sulfonylurea can help keep your blood sugar in a healthy range and reduce your risk of any long-term complications associated with type 2 diabetes.

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.