What is Exenatide?

Misty Amber Brighton

Exenatide, also known as byetta, is an injectable drug that helps raise insulin levels while lowering the blood sugar. It is normally given to patients with type 2 diabetes, a disease characterized by high amounts of glucose in the bloodstream, who also have a heavy tolerance for artificial insulin. The drug is administered by injecting it under the skin near the abdomen, thigh, or bicep. A physician often prescribes this medication after changes in diet or oral diabetes drugs do not produce the desired results.

A person with type 2 diabetes is typically instructed to inject Exenatide twice daily.
A person with type 2 diabetes is typically instructed to inject Exenatide twice daily.

This medication acts as a stimulant for the pancreas, causing it to produce higher levels of insulin. In many cases, the insulin production is leveled out as blood sugar levels return to a healthy range. For this reason, patients who use exenatide are often able to keep their glucose levels consistent throughout the day, especially after eating a large meal.

Exenatide is delivered in the form of a pre-filled injector that somewhat resembles a sharp-edged pen. Each pen may contain either five or ten micrograms of medication. The smaller dosage is normally given to patients who do not show a great deal of fluctuation in glucose levels. It can be increased as the disease progresses, or if a tolerance to the drug develops.

A diabetic may inject this substance one or two times daily. He normally does so by placing the needle end just underneath the skin and depressing the top of the injector until the solution is completely dispensed. It is normally injected in the upper part of the arm or leg, but can also be administered into the stomach.

Exenatide should be refrigerated between 36 and 46 degrees F (2 to 8 C). Even so, it should not be frozen. People who are using exenatide should be mindful of the expiration date, and be sure to use any opened portions within 30 days.

A few side effects may occur while using exenatide. Some of the more common include a change in blood pressure, diarrhea, or a rash at the injection site. Individuals who experience these symptoms should advise their health care provider as soon as possible.

People who use exenatide often report they are able to control their diabetes more effectively when using this drug as opposed to other diabetic medications. Patients are normally able to manage their weight better as well, which can also help keep glucose levels steady. For these reasons, diabetics may want to discuss this treatment option with their physician.

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