Is Metformin Safer than Glyburide (Diabeta) for Diabetes? Yes.

Long ago, glyburide and medications like glyburide, namely chlorpropamide, were the preferred blood sugar-lowering drugs for patients with type II diabetes. Now, metformin, either alone or in combination with other drugs, is the first choice for most patients.

Glyburide has “fallen out of favor” for many reasons. One such reason is it’s worse side effect profile.

What Are the Side Effects of Glyburide (Diabeta)?

By far, the most common side effect of glyburide is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Hypoglycemia is a very serious condition. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to brain damage, coma or death.

One in every ten users of glyburide will experience at least one episode of hypoglycemia every year. Risk factors include age, low body weight, kidney disease and bad liver.

Weight gain is another common and important side effect of glyburide. Studies show that new-to-glyburide patients will gain about 4.5 lbs in their first year of taking glyburide. Weight gain is less thereafter.

Interestingly, glyburide does not prevent heart disease or stroke. The drug’s negative effect on weight may offer an explanation. Metformin, which does not cause weight gain, does prevent heart disease (read about metformin side effects).

Is Glyburide Safe for Pregnant or Nursing Women?

Although you can use glyburide during pregnany, insulin will provide better control of your blood sugar. Tight control of blood sugar is especially important during pregnany, as high blood sugar can harm your unborn child.

The drug does not contaminate breast milk.

Pharmacist’s Tips

  • Never take glyburide without trying metformin first.
  • Always take glyburide with a meal to lessen your risk of hypoglycemia
  • A great diet plan and exercise regimen will minimize the negative effect that the durg has on your weight
  • Exercise and changes in diet can increase your risk for hypoglycemia. When starting glyburide, monitor your blood sugars regularly to understand how the drug affects your body.
  • If you’re older than 65 years, start glyburide at a low dose (i.e. 2.5mg/day). Better yet, use a safer medication, like Diamicron (gliclazide)

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