Nateglinide, from a class of antidiabetic drugs called meglitinides, is a drug frequently prescribed by doctors to treat patients with type 2 diabetes. It generally works by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin and by helping the body make use of insulin present in the blood. Insulin allows cells to store and use sugar, resulting in low blood sugar levels. Doctors may give nateglinide together with another antidiabetic drug, depending on the need of each patient. Patients are also advised to follow the right diet, maintain ideal weight, and exercise regularly while on this medication.
In tablet form, nateglinide is often taken 30 minutes before each meal and should not be taken when one intends to skip the meal. Instructions given by doctors on the proper intake of nateglinide should be followed strictly. Most patients are encouraged to bring candies and other sugar sources just in case hypoglycemia or low blood sugar occurs. They are also often reminded not to increase or lessen their dosage without consulting first with their doctor.
The use of nateglinide may have some side effects that patients need to be aware of. These include hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, allergy, and other mild symptoms. Symptoms of hyperglycemia or high blood sugar level are frequent urination, extreme thirst, extreme hunger, and weakness. Hypoglycemia may manifest as dizziness, clumsiness, irritability, and numbness, among many others.
Allergy is frequently observed as itchiness, swallowing difficulty, and swelling along the neck and face area. It is often important for patients to immediately call their doctor when hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, and allergy occur because these can have serious complications if not managed promptly. Mild side effects are cough, headache, and joint and body pains. A doctor's advice is also necessary when these mild symptoms become severe or persistent.
Some drugs may not be given together with nateglinide as they can either promote hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. This is why patients should let their doctor know the lists of drugs they are currently taking. Drugs that may lead to hyperglycemia include thyroid medicines, seizure medicines, and birth control pills. Those that may cause hypoglycemia are aspirin, beta-blockers, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Alcohol should also be avoided because it can cause hypoglycemia.
Blood-sugar levels in patients taking nateglinide must be monitored regularly to help doctors assess if patients are responding well to the treatment. This is often important to make sure that the condition is controlled so that diabetes complications are prevented. Some of these complications are blindness, loss of limb, and damage to the kidneys.