|Type of medicine||Oral antidiabetic|
|Used for||Type 2 (non insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus in adults|
Diabetes occurs when the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood becomes too high. Normally, after we eat, various foods are broken down in the gut into sugars which are then absorbed into the body. To remain healthy, your blood glucose level should not go too high or too low. A hormone called insulin helps to take glucose from the bloodstream into various cells of the body. This helps to keep the blood sugar normal.
Insulin is made by special cells in the pancreas known as beta-cells. In type 2 diabetes you either do not make enough insulin for your body`s needs, and/or the beta-cells in your body are not able to use the insulin properly.
Tolbutamide works mainly by stimulating the beta-cells in the pancreas, causing more insulin to be produced. This helps to decrease the amount of sugar in your blood.
Before taking tolbutamide
Before taking tolbutamide make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you are over 65 years of age.
- If you have porphyria (a rare blood disorder).
- If you have kidney or liver problems.
- If you have thyroid or adrenal gland problems.
- If you have ketosis (where the body converts fat into energy) or acidosis (an accumulation of acid in the body), together known as ketoacidosis.
- If you have diabetes that needs to be treated by insulin (type 1 or insulin dependent diabetes).
- If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal or complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
How to take tolbutamide
- Before beginning treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet.
- Take your medication exactly as directed by your doctor.
- Take tolbutamide tablets with or immediately after meals. If you have been told to take only one dose each day, take it with, or straight after, your first main meal of the day.
- Try to take tolbutamide at the same time(s) each day to avoid missing any doses.
- If you forget to take a dose, take one as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Your doctor/nurse will want to see you regularly to review your condition - it is important that you attend these appointments.
- You will need to have regular blood tests to check the amount of glucose in your blood. Your blood pressure and cholesterol levels may also be checked.
- It is also important that you follow the dietary advice given to you, such as eating a well-balanced, healthy diet. Avoid sugary foods and reduce the amount of fat and salt in your food. Eat more fruit and vegetables, fibre-rich starchy foods, and oily fish.
- It is important for you to eat regular meals.
- Your ability to concentrate may be affected if your diabetes is not well-controlled. This may be the case especially at the start of your treatment. Make sure your reactions and concentration are normal before driving or operating machinery.
- You should exercise regularly. Ask your doctor or nurse to advise you on what exercise will be suitable for you.
- Avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol or drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. Alcohol may produce low blood sugar and affect the control of your condition.
- Do not stop taking tolbutamide without speaking with your doctor first. Treatment for diabetes is usually lifelong.
- If you are having any treatment like an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
Can tolbutamide cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, all medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common tolbutamide side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling or being sick||Eat little and often. Stick to simple foods|
|Constipation||Try to eat a well balanced diet containing plenty of fibre and drink 6 to 8 glasses of water each day|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace any lost fluids|
Important: Hypoglycaemia is when your blood sugar falls, causing you to sweat, feel weak and irritable, look pale, have a fast heart rate and tremble. This may happen because your dose of tolbutamide is too high, the amount of sugar in your body is too low, or because of increased exercise or infection. If this happens, have a sugary snack or drink (not 'diet') immediately and then follow this with a starchy snack such as a sandwich. Low blood sugar caused by tolbutamide may last for a few hours so it is also important that you contact your doctor or nurse for further advice.
Important: if you experience any jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes) or a severe skin rash, speak with your doctor straight away.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store tolbutamide
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 60th Edition (September 2010) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Tolbutamide Tablets® 500 mg; Manufacturer's PIL, Tolbutamide Tablets® 500 mg, Actavis Ltd, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2010.
|Original Author: Shehzad Raza||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Prof Cathy Jackson|
|Last Checked: 15/12/2011||Document ID: 3572 Version: 23||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.