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Side Effects
Serious

Hypoglycemia (blood sugar levels that are too low), resulting in shakiness, headache, cold sweats, anxiety, and changes in mental state. Stop taking the drug and seek medical help immediately. Severe diarrhea, bleeding, bruising, chills, fever, stomach pain, or heartburn may also occur; stop taking the drug and notify your doctor. Other serious but less-common side effects include bone marrow suppression, hemolytic anemia, and elevation of liver-associated enzymes; these problems can be detected by your doctor.
Common

Increased skin sensitivity to sunlight.
Less Common

Fatigue, itchy skin, sore throat, ringing in ears, weakness
Acetohexamide


Drug Class:
Antidiabetic agent/sulfonylurea

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: Yes

Generic 250 mg
(Schein)
Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions



Available In
Tablets

Why Prescribed
Used as an adjunct (supplemental) therapy to dietary modification to help control sugar levels in patients with non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes mellitus.

How It Works
It stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin. Increased insulin levels reduce blood glucose levels and promote the transport of glucose into muscle cells and other tissues, where it is burned for energy.

Range and Frequency
Starting at 250 mg once a day, increased as needed to a maximum of 1.5 g per day. In patients receiving less than 1 g per day, sugar levels can usually be controlled with a once-a-day dose; for those receiving between 1 and 1.5 g, the drug is given in two daily doses, morning and evening.

Onset of Effect
Within one hour.

Duration of Action
12 to 24 hours.

Dietary Advice
Take it with food or liquid to minimize stomach upset.

Storage
Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Missed Dose
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is almost time for the next dose. In that case, skip the missed dose and return to your regular schedule. Do not double the next dose.

Stopping the Drug
Do not stop taking acetohexamide without consulting your doctor.

Prolonged Use
The dosage may need to be adjusted with prolonged use. Over time, many patients become resistant to the effects of the medication and may require treatment with insulin instead.

Over 60
A smaller dosage is usually warranted for older patients.

Driving and Hazardous Work
No problems are expected.

Alcohol
Drink in moderation only. Small amounts of alcohol at mealtimes usually cause no problems with blood sugar; however, alcohol may cause unpleasant flushing in the face, arms, and neck, up to 12 hours after ingestion.

Pregnancy
Acetohexamide is not usually given during pregnancy. Insulin is generally the treatment of choice for pregnant diabetic patients.

Breast Feeding
Acetohexamide may pass into breast milk; caution is advised. Consult your doctor if you are considering breast feeding.

Infants and Children
Safety and effectiveness have not been established for young patients.

Special Concerns
Follow your doctor's advice about diet, exercise, and weight control carefully. These aspects of treatment are just as essential to the proper control of diabetes as taking the medication. At all times, be sure to carry some form of medical identification that indicates you have diabetes and that lists all of the drugs you are taking.

Overdose Symptoms
Excessive hunger, nausea, anxiety, cold sweats, drowsiness, rapid heartbeat, weakness, changes in mental state, loss of consciousness (indications of hypoglycemia). Overdose is most likely to occur after you have delayed or missed a meal, have exercised more than usual, or have consumed more than a small amount of alcohol.

What to Do
Call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or local hospital immediately.

Drug Interactions
The effects of acetohexamide can be altered by anti- coagulants, antidepressants, aspirin, over-the-counter cold preparations containing aspirin, some diuretics, glucagon, beta-blockers, steroids, phenylbutazone, probenecid, rifampin, nonprescription drugs for colds, hay fever, and appetite control, and sulfa-containing antibiotics.

Food Interactions
A special diet is essential for proper control of blood glucose levels. Avoid foods high in sugar.

Disease Interactions
Liver disease, over active or under active thyroid, and kidney disease can affect the activity of the drug.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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