If you are one of the millions of people who have diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, you may be taking Januvia as part of your treatment regimen. Januvia is a prescription medication that helps control blood sugar levels if you have type 2 diabetes. It is a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor, which works by blocking the action of an enzyme that destroys incretin hormones which help your body to regulate blood sugar levels. While Januvia can help you manage your diabetes, it can also cause side effects. In this article, we will discuss the side effects of Januvia, as well as the medication’s FAQs, and alternatives to taking Januvia.
What is Januvia?
Januvia is a prescription medication used as a treatment for type 2 diabetes and it works by increasing the levels of insulin in your body. When you have diabetes, you can suffer from hyperglycemia, also known as high blood sugar levels. Your blood sugar, also called glucose, is derived from the food and drink you ingest and is broken down in your stomach into glucose which is then absorbed into your bloodstream. The glucose is then used by your body for energy. In order for your cells to process the glucose, the cells need the hormone insulin to take in the glucose. Type 2 diabetes makes your cells less insulin sensitive and causes insulin resistance which means they no longer respond to insulin as they used to. Insulin resistance allows your blood sugar to rise and can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and eye damage. Januvia is a member of the DPP-4 inhibitor class of medications and it works by blocking the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase 4 which breaks down certain hormones that help to control blood sugar levels. By blocking DPP-4, Januvia allows these hormones to work longer and more effectively which increases your insulin levels and lowers your blood glucose levels.
Sitagliptin is the active ingredient in Januvia and is only available as a brand-name drug and not in a generic form. The dosages currently available for Januvia are 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg, and which one you will take depends on your doctor although 100 mg is the most common dose for type 2 diabetics. Januvia is usually taken once a day, with or without food. Januvia works best when coupled with a healthy diet and exercise routine and is recommended for only type 2 diabetes and not type 1 diabetes.
What are the side effects of taking Januvia?
The most common side effects of taking Januvia include:
- Upper respiratory tract infections such as a sinus infection or the common cold
- Stuffy nose
- Runny nose
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas and the symptoms of pancreatitis include abdominal pain, nausea, fever, a swollen abdomen, and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms while taking Januvia, contact your doctor immediately as pancreatitis can be a serious condition.
Januvia can also cause kidney damage and problems with kidney function which can lead to a decrease in urine output, nausea, swelling of your legs or feet, fatigue, and shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor as kidney problems can lead to kidney failure.
An allergic reaction to Januvia is rare but can occur. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. These adverse reactions can also lead to anaphylaxis shock which can lower your heart rate, cause trouble breathing, and has the potential risk of being fatal. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Joint pain or swelling
Januvia can also cause joint pain or swelling. If you experience these symptoms, contact your doctor as they may be a sign of a more serious condition and your doctor may want to switch your medication if Januvia is the cause of any severe pain.
Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can also be a rare side effect of Januvia. Symptoms of hypoglycemia can include shakiness, sweating, weakness, confusion, dizziness, headache, fast heartbeat, and hunger. If you experience any of these symptoms while taking Januvia or if your blood sugar levels are below 70 mg/dl, contact your doctor immediately as severe hypoglycemia can become a serious condition.
Please talk to your doctor if you experience any of these adverse events as he or she may switch medications and offer different treatment options.
Can you take Januvia with other diabetes medications?
Yes, you can take Januvia with other diabetes medications but it is always best to speak with your doctor or pharmacist first as he or she will know if there are any possible interactions between the two drugs. Januvia can be paired with the following diabetes drugs:
Who needs to avoid taking Januvia?
Januvia needs to be avoided if you have or have had the following conditions:
- Kidney problems
- Heart failure
- Allergies to Januvia or any of its ingredients
Please talk to your doctor or health care provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding as there are no human clinical studies of Januvia that have been conducted in this group, although there have been animal studies.
Avoid taking Januvia if you are taking beta-blocker medications such as timolol, metoprolol, or propranolol as they may not allow you to feel how fast your heart is beating if you get hypoglycemia. Always disclose any medications you are taking to your doctor before starting any new medication as other drugs may also affect your blood sugar levels.
What are some of the FAQs about taking Januvia?
Some of the most frequently asked questions about taking Januvia include the following:
Is it safe to take Januvia?
Yes, it is safe to take Januvia as long as you do not have any allergies or medical conditions that would make it unsafe for you to take it.
Can I drink alcohol while taking Januvia?
There is no known interaction between Januvia and alcohol; however, alcohol can lead to both hypoglycemia and pancreatitis so consuming alcohol in moderation is recommended. If you are uncertain about how much alcohol you can drink while taking Januvia, please consult with your doctor for an answer.
Can Januvia cause weight loss?
Weight loss is not a common side effect of Januvia, but weight loss in patients has been reported in one small clinical trial. Januvia is not FDA-approved as a weight-loss drug. If you experience any sudden or unexplained weight loss while taking Januvia, contact your doctor.
Can Januvia cause weight gain?
Weight gain is not a common side effect of Januvia although it is a side effect of taking insulin. If you are taking insulin while taking Januvia, this may be the source of your unexplained weight gain and you need to talk to your doctor to make sure it is not due to any other underlying condition.
Does Januvia cause withdrawal symptoms if I stop taking it?
There are no known withdrawal symptoms associated with Januvia; however, if you experience any sudden or unexplained changes in your blood sugar levels after stopping Januvia you need to contact your doctor.
What are the alternatives to taking Januvia?
There are many alternative diabetes medications available on the market today. Some common alternatives to Januvia include metformin, insulin, glipizide, pioglitazone, empagliflozin, and dulaglutide to name a few although there are several others. There are also many newer diabetes drugs available that your doctor can discuss with you as well. Cinnamon has been studied as a natural alternative to other glycemic control drugs although the results are inconclusive. Finally, a healthy diet, exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight can help with the management of type 2 diabetes so they always need to be a part of your diabetes treatment plan as well. If you have any questions about Januvia or any other diabetes medications, please speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Your healthcare provider will be able to provide you with more information and help you make the best decision for your individualized treatment plan.
Januvia is a medication used to help control blood sugar levels if you suffer from type 2 diabetes. It is generally considered safe, but there are some potential side effects and drug interactions to be aware of if you are prescribed this medication. There are many alternative diabetes medications if you do experience any adverse effects that become severe or bothersome. Finally, diet and exercise are always important in managing type 2 diabetes so make sure to include them as part of your overall treatment plan. If you have any more questions regarding Januvia or type 2 diabetes, please talk to your doctor or health care provider.
References and sources:
- Beneficial effects of sitagliptin and metformin in non-diabetic hypertensive and dyslipidemic patients
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