In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for pioglitazone, trade name ActosTM.
What it’s for & How to take
Pioglitazone is an anti-diabetic medication used to help control high blood sugar in patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes known as type 2 diabetes.
This medication is only part of a complete treatment program which may also include exercise, diet, and other medications. Changing any of these factors may affect your blood sugar levels.
Pioglitazone works by helping sensitize the body to its insulin, which then decreases your blood sugar. Pioglitazone will not work for Type 1 diabetes.
Maintaining proper sugar level in your body helps prevent nerve damage, kidney problems, vision difficulties, decreases heart attack and stroke risk and helps maintain sexual function.
Pioglitazone is usually taken once daily, with or without food. Your dosage is based on your current condition. Your doctor may gradually increase your dose based on your response to therapy, blood sugar readings, and side effect tolerance. It may take up to 2 months before the full benefit of pioglitazone is recognized.
If you are already taking another medication to treat Type 2 diabetes and your doctor wants to start you on this medication, ask your doctor if you need to change the dose of your first medication.
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.
If your doctor instructs you, check your blood sugar regularly and keep a record of the readings so you may share them with your doctor. If you have any high or low readings, please notify your healthcare provider.
Symptoms of low blood sugar include shaking, sweating, increased heartbeat, blurred vision, tingling in hands and feet and hunger. Most often, low blood sugar will occur following heavy exercise, low-calorie intake, or heavy alcohol intake.
Symptoms of high blood sugar include thirst, increased urination, confusion, drowsiness, rapid breathing, and a fruity breath odor. Let your doctor know if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Diabetes education training programs help you understand diabetes and all the treatment and monitoring that goes along with it. Call your local hospital and ask them when the next diabetes education program is being offered.
Most Important Warnings
- This category of medications may cause or worsen congestive heart failure. Notify your doctor right away if you experience any rapid weight gain, shortness of breath or swelling. Do not use this medication if you have congestive heart failure.
Other Warnings & Cautions
- In female patients, pioglitazone may increase the chance of bone fractures, specifically in the arms, hands or feet. Also, this medication may cause changes to the female menstrual cycle by stimulating ovulation and increasing the risk of pregnancy. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for more information.
- Carry glucose tablets with you in case you have symptoms of low blood sugar. In an emergency, table sugar, orange juice, or any other form of sugar will help raise your blood sugar. Make sure your close friends and family understand how to help you when you experience low blood sugar.
- You may need to check your blood sugar more often when you have a fever, infection, exercise more than usual, skip a meal, drink alcohol or any other event that stresses your body. Ask your doctor how you should adjust your dose if your blood sugar is high or low.
- This medication may make you dizzy, drowsy, or blur your vision. Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking pioglitazone.
- Let your pharmacist or doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking this medication.
Interactions & Side Effects
- Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if pioglitazone is safe for you to take.
- Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
- Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any heart disease, edema, liver or kidney disease, any electrolyte imbalance, or if your eye doctor has ever told you that you may have macular edema.
- While taking pioglitazone, you may feel a headache, weight gain, sore muscles and possibly some fluid retention. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
- Call your doctor right away if you begin to experience any vision problems, bone fracture, rapid weight gain, edema or signs of liver disease such as yellowing of skin or eyes.
If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.