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What Caregivers Should Know About Diabetes Drugs

diabetes-drugsI have had the good fortune to connect with Julian Hills, a content writer and blogger for a great website and resource,  When I asked about the latest on diabetes and treatment, she offered these things to consider when it comes to elder care at home.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Controlling the disease can save lives, but it’s also important for caregivers to know that controlling it can also come with its own set of consequences. Diabetes occurs in people who have high blood sugar because their body cannot move sugar into fat, liver and muscle to be stored for energy. The pancreas either does not make enough insulin or cells do not respond to insulin.

There are two common forms of the disease. The first, called type 1 diabetes, can be diagnosed in people of any age. The cause is unknown. These people need daily injections of insulin. The second, type 2 diabetes, is becoming more prevalent in the United States due to high obesity rates. Teens and young adults are now among many of the people developing type 2 diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 8 percent of Americans have diabetes. Controlling diabetes is important because if untreated the disease can cause heart disease, stroke, hypertension, blindness and kidney disease. With nearly 26 million estimated cases in this country alone, an entire drug industry has blossomed, and caregivers need to be aware of the complications that have arisen from this group of drugs. While many of the medications on the market have helped patients control their condition, there are also a number of complications being reported.

As more and more people depend on these drugs, more and more lawsuits associated with their usage are arising. Here are some examples of conditions associated with these drugs:

  • Actos helps patients with type 2 diabetes by making their cells more sensitive to Insulin. But studies show extended use of the drug has been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer. Patients taking Actos need to watch for painful or bloody urination, and unusually severe back pain.
  • • Byetta is an injectable drug for type 2 patients. The drug controls blood sugar, but has been linked to damage of the pancreas, kidneys and thyroid. These complications can be fatal.
  • Januvia works in tandem with other type 2 diabetes medications to increase their effectiveness. It’s not for type 1 patients. Pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis are closely associated with the drug. In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration received nearly 200 reports of acute and chronic pancreatitis linked to the drug.
  • • Victoza is another drug aimed at fighting type 2 diabetes. It has been linked to thyroid tumors, as well as pancreatitis and kidney failure.

Not all patients will suffer from these complications, but drugs may not be the only option. Adopting a healthier lifestyle may help people depend less on medication and avoid the potentially dangerous effects of these medications. Caregivers need to remember that helping people with the condition develop better diet and exercise habits is a great way to control the effects of type 2 diabetes.



Julian Hills is a content writer and blogger for Drugwatch. His journalism career has taken him from newspapers to local television news stations and even a 24-hour cable network in the Southeast. Julian is a graduate of Florida State University.

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families who need help with elder care at home in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to


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