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Byetta (exenatide) is an alternative treatment to insulin injection used in managing type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, the medication is a synthetic version of a protein originally discovered in the saliva of venomous Gila monster lizards.
The treatment helps control blood sugar levels in three ways:
Byetta is not a replacement for insulin in patients with type 1 diabetes or patients with diabetic ketoacidosis.
Using Byetta Effectively
The medication comes in single-use, disposable pens. It may be used as a stand-alone treatment, but is also often used with other diabetes medications. Treatment is similar in both cases:
Treatment is typically started at lower doses to reduce unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, gas and so forth. As the body adjusts to treatment these effects become both less frequent and less severe.
For best results patients are usually encouraged to adopt dietary changes and participate in regular exercise in addition to treatment.
Throughout treatment blood sugar should be carefully monitored to ensure the medication is working.
As mentioned above, Byetta can produce unpleasant, but not dangerous, gastrointestinal problems; these usually occur only at the start of treatment and are not cause for concern unless persistent or severe. Some individuals also experience headache, jitteriness, acid reflux and loss of appetite.
Less frequently more serious side effects may develop:
Warning signs which call for immediate medical attention include:
Regular doctor checkups can help screen for developing adverse effects that might otherwise go unnoticed until severe; untreated complications involving the pancreas, kidneys or other major organs can lead to the need for transplants or even death.
It is unknown if the medication harms unborn babies; pregnant women should discuss potential risks with a doctor.
Byetta & Weight Loss
Some patients experience significant weight loss while taking Byetta, particularly those who are also taking metformin. The exact mechanism behind the weight loss is unclear; Byetta slows the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine, which may result in patients feeling satiated longer and lead to eating less.
Many individuals with diabetes benefit from losing weight, making it a beneficial side effect of an otherwise-necessary treatment. Those without type 2 diabetes should carefully consider risks before using this medication as a weight-loss aid; there are many other options available which are considerably less likely to produce dangerous side effects.
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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.