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What Is Liraglutide?

By Jennifer Long
Updated May 17, 2024
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Liraglutide is a medication used for treating diabetes. It is designed for type 2 diabetes patients. This medication is not insulin-based like most other diabetes medications. Available by prescription only, it is an injected medicine used once a day.

Type 2 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed than type 1. It is also known as adult onset diabetes because it is often diagnosed during adult ages, while type 1 diabetes is diagnosed during childhood and is also called juvenile diabetes. Liraglutide is intended for patients who have type 2 diabetes and are not insulin-dependent for sugar regulation.

Many diabetes medications are insulin-based. They rely on insulin to trigger cell reaction to remove excess sugar from the blood. Liraglutide mimics incretin, which is a hormone produced in the digestive tract. Research has shown that incretin reacts to food and can provide the same sugar level regulation as insulin. This particular type of diabetes treatment works by slowing the digestive system and the rate that food is absorbed so the body has more time to remove excess sugar.

The risks of liraglutide are minimal. As an incretin-based medication, it is more beneficial to patients with dangerously high blood sugar. It reacts to the amount of excess sugar in the blood. This means people with lower sugar levels do not see the same pronounced drops in sugar. If combined with other medications that treat diabetes, however, it can cause a greater risk of hypoglycemia.

Liraglutide dosage depends on individual patients. Factors such as weight, health, and sugar levels are considered. In most instances, if other diabetes medicines are being used, the doctor will lower the dosage or completely remove them from the treatment plan. Serious consideration is necessary when this medicine is combined as part of a complete treatment that includes other diabetes treatments.

Common side effects of liraglutide are minimal. Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, upper respiratory infection, and constipation were reported by patients and often subside as the body gets adjusted to the medication. Rare side effects include urinary tract infection, back pain, dizziness, and the flu. The dosage amount plays a large role in what, if any, side effects occur and to what extent.

As with many other prescription medicines, liraglutide drug interactions are possible. Interaction with other diabetes medicines is most common. The absorption of any other medicines may decrease because this medicine slows down the digestive process. Doctors should be aware of all medicines, ingested or injected, so that adjustments can be made if necessary.

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