What is Januvia (Sitagliptin) Used For?
Januvia refers to a hypoglycemic drug which is used to treat high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. This medication is used to treat type 2 diabetes and not type 1 diabetes. Controlling high blood glucose is important to prevent the risk of kidney damage, loss of limbs and nerve problems. Januvia is the brand name of sitagliptin, which works by increasing the number of the natural substances called incretins. Incretins stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin, which helps to control blood glucose levels. It can be used in combination with other medications to effectively control high blood sugar levels. You should not take this medication if you are experiencing periods of diabetic ketoacidosis. This medication is part of a treatment program that includes exercise, diet, weight control and regular blood glucose testing.
How Does the Drug Work?
It increases the quantity of incretin hormone available in the body by the names:
- Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1)
- Glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP)
The body releases the above two hormones naturally in response to food consumption, their role is to aid in regulating blood glucose in the following ways:
- Diabetic patients have high blood sugar levels, so they stimulate the beta cells to produce insulin.
- GLP-1 minimizes glucagon (it’s a hormone that enables the liver to produce glucose) production.
- GIP and GL-1 reduce the speed in which the food passes from your stomach into the intestines; consequently, the absorption rate of glucose from the gut into the bloodstream is slowed. Furthermore, they act on the brain, causing one to feel full, hence food intake is reduced.
- In a normal situation (without the medication), an enzyme by the name dipeptidyl peptidase 4 breaks down GIP and GL-1 hormones. The active ingredient in Januvia binds on this enzyme, so the two hormones aren’t broken down. The levels of GIP and GL-1 are increased and their effect in controlling the blood glucose is increased as well. However, the patients are at risk of side effects of Januvia.
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