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All about: Avandia

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Generic name: Rosiglitazone maleate
Brand names: Avandia

Why is Avandia prescribed?

Avandia is used to hold down blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes (also known as "non-insulin dependent" or "adult onset" diabetes).

Blood sugar levels are ordinarily controlled by the body's natural supply of insulin, which helps sugar move out of the bloodstream and into the cells. In type 2 diabetes, the buildup of sugar in the blood is often due not to a lack of insulin, but to the body's inability to make proper use of it. Avandia works first by decreasing sugar production, then by helping the body make more efficient use of whatever insulin is available. It does not increase the actual amount of insulin in circulation.

Avandia is a new type of diabetes medication. It can be used alone or in conjunction with insulin, metformin (Glucophage), or a member of the sulfonylurea class of diabetes drugs (Diabinese, Micronase, Orinase). It takes effect slowly. You may not see a reduction in blood sugar levels for the first 2 weeks of therapy, and it may take 2 to 3 months for the medication to deliver maximum results.

Most important fact about Avandia

Always remember that Avandia is an aid to, not a substitute for, good diet, weight loss, and exercise. Failure to follow a sound diet and exercise plan can lead to serious complications, such as dangerously high or low blood sugar levels. Remember, too, that Avandia is not an oral form of insulin, and cannot be used in place of insulin.

How should you take Avandia?

Your dose of Avandia may be taken once a day in the morning or divided in half and taken in the morning and evening, with or without food.

--If you miss a dose...

Take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the one you missed and go back to your regular schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

--Storage instructions...

Store at room temperature in a tight, light-resistant container.

What side effects may occur?

Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Avandia.

  • More common side effects may include:
    Back pain, fatigue, headache, high blood sugar, low blood sugar, respiratory tract infections, sinus inflammation, swelling

Why should Avandia not be prescribed?

Do not take Avandia if it has ever given you an allergic reaction.

Special warnings about Avandia

If you have liver disease, you should not take Avandia. Your doctor will check to make sure your liver function is normal before prescribing Avandia, then recheck it every 2 months for the first 12 months and periodically thereafter. Warning signs of liver damage include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, and dark urine. If you develop any of these symptoms, tell your doctor immediately. You may need to discontinue treatment with Avandia.

People taking Avandia in combination with insulin or other diabetes drugs sometimes develop low blood sugar. If this happens, check with your doctor. The dosage of the other diabetes drug may have to be reduced.

People with kidney problems can take Avandia, but should not take Glucophage. If you have poor kidney function, you'll be unable to take advantage of this combination.

Avandia can increase the chances of conception. Be sure to use some form of birth control if you don't want a pregnancy.

Avandia won't help type 1 diabetics, who are unable to produce any insulin at all. Insulin shots are a necessity for this form of the illness. Nor can Avandia relieve diabetic ketoacidosis (excessively high sugar levels due to lack of insulin).

Use Avandia with caution if you have a problem with fluid retention or swelling. The drug has been known to cause this problem, which in turn can lead to heart failure or other heart problems. Avandia should be avoided by anyone who has been diagnosed with heart failure, and it should be discontinued by anyone who develops it. Make sure the doctor is aware of any heart problems you may have. Alert him immediately if you develop symptoms of heart failure such as fatigue and shortness of breath.

If you are being treated with Avandia and insulin you will need to be monitored for heart problems. Notify your doctor if you develop any unusual swelling or a rapid weight increase.

You should be aware that people taking Avandia tend to gain a little weight, typically around 5 to 10 pounds. The cause is thought to be a combination of fluid retention and fat accumulation.

Avandia is not recommended for children under 18.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking Avandia

No drug interactions with Avandia have been reported at this time.

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

It's important to maintain normal blood sugar levels while pregnant, but the safety of Avandia during pregnancy remains unproven. Since insulin shots are known to be safe, your doctor may switch you from Avandia to insulin until the baby is born.

It is not known whether Avandia appears in breast milk. Because many drugs do find their way into breast milk, however, the safest bet is to avoid taking Avandia while nursing.

Recommended dosage

ADULTS

The usual starting dose of Avandia either alone or in combination with insulin or another diabetes drug is 4 milligrams once a day or 2 milligrams twice a day. If your sugar levels remain too high after 12 weeks of treatment, the doctor may increase your dose to 8 milligrams once a day or 4 milligrams twice a day. However, the maximum recommended dose of Avandia in combination with insulin or a sulfonylurea diabetes drug is 4 milligrams per day. If you do develop low blood sugar, your insulin or sulfonylurea drug dosage will need to be decreased by your doctor.

Overdosage

Although there is no information on the potential results of Avandia overdose, any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.

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