Medications for Gestational Diabetes
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medicines listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medicines as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor. Your doctor will try to control your gestational diabetes with diet and exercise. If that is not successful, you may need to take insulin or other medicines to control your blood sugar levels.
Insulin InjectionsInsulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. Insulin’s main job is to lower blood sugar levels by facilitating the transfer of glucose from the blood to tissue cells. Gestational diabetes occurs when hormones produced during pregnancy block the effects of insulin. This blocking effect creates a condition known as insulin resistance. If diet alone does not control the blood sugar level, insulin is usually prescribed.There are many different types of insulin that can be prescribed. Some work faster but for shorter periods of time, and others stay in the system all day. Your doctor will choose which type of insulin is correct for you to use.Treatment aims to keep blood sugar levels within a normal range. The optimum goal for a woman with gestational diabetes is a blood sugar level of:
- 95 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) [5.3 mmol/L] or less at fasting
- 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L) or less one hour after a meal
- 120 mg/dL (6.7 mmol/L) or less two hours after a meal
Oral MedicinesOral medicines are not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for gestational diabetes, your doctor may recommend that you take oral medicines to help control your blood sugar levels. These oral medicines work in different ways depending on which type of drug they are. Some examples of medicines that may be prescribed to control your blood sugar levels include:
- Metformin (such as, Fortamet, Glucophage)—works in the liver to lower the production of glucose and makes your body more sensitive to insulin
- Glyburide (such as, DiaBeta, Glynase, PresTab)—stimulates the body to make more insulin and helps the cells use the insulin better
- Low blood sugar symptoms:
- Fast heartbeat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain (metformin)
- Diarrhea (metformin)
- Loss of appetite (metformin)
- Abnormal taste (metformin)
Special ConsiderationsWhenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:
- Take your medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
- Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.
- Do not share them.
- Know what the results and side effects. Report them to your doctor.
- Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over the counter medication and herb or dietary supplements.
- Plan ahead for refills so you do not run out.
When to Contact Your DoctorCall your doctor right away or call 911 if you have a serious complication to the medication, such as:
- Seizures or convulsions
- Recurrent or extreme low blood sugar
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4/1/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Dhulkotia JS, Ola B, et al.Oral hypoglycemic agents vs insulin in management of gestational diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010;203(5):457.e1-9.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD
- Review Date: 09/2014
- Update Date: 09/17/2014
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