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What is Sitagliptin?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Sitagliptin is a medication used to treat type two diabetes. It does not work for people with type one diabetes. This drug is classified as a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor, which means that it works by stimulating the pancreas to release more insulin when blood sugar levels rise. When there is too much sugar in the patient's bloodstream, it also sends a signal to the liver to stop producing glucose. Sitagliptin may be prescribed alone, or a person may take other diabetes medications to control the disease.

Managing diabetes consistently is key to preventing complications, such as damage to the heart and nerves. In addition to taking medications, the patient should work with his diabetes care team to develop a healthy diet and exercise plan. He must also regularly monitor his blood sugar to ensure it is in check. Medication should not replace healthy lifestyle changes.


Sitagliptin is available in the form of a tablet, to be taken by mouth. A patient will typically take it once daily, at the same time each day. It may be taken with or without food. Adults will typically take 100 milligrams (mg) of the drug each day, whereas the proper dosage for children will be determined on an individual basis. The doctor will monitor the patient's response to the drug, and may adjust the dosage on an as-needed basis.

Patients should inform the doctor of any side effects from taking sitagliptin that become bothersome. These may include a headache or cold symptoms, such as sore throat and a runny or stuffy nose. Some patients may experience diarrhea. More serious side effects should be reported to a doctor immediately. These can include nausea and vomiting, as well as loss of appetite. Persistent pain that typically begins in the stomach and spreads to the back indicates a possible case of pancreatitis. A fever, rapid heart rate, and a blistering or peeling skin rash may also occur.

It is possible to overdose on sitagliptin, which can cause severe low blood sugar. Patients must be careful never to take more than the prescribed dose. Those who do overdose will typically experience tremors, extreme weakness, and problems speaking. Blurred vision, confusion, and stomach pain are possible, and some people may even suffer from seizures.

Sitagliptin is not generally known to cause birth defects, however women may wish to discuss these possible risks with the physician. As of 2011, it is unknown whether sitagliptin may pass into breast milk. Patients must disclose all other medications and supplements they take to avoid possible interactions. Other medical conditions should also be discussed.

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