If your healthcare provider recommends glipizide to help manage your type 2 diabetes, you probably have some questions about it.
It’s important to understand all of the potential risks and benefits of taking a prescription drug, and glipizide is no exception.
In this article, we’ll discuss potential interactions with glipizide, as well as important information such as possible side effects.
We’ll also offer some suggestions in terms of foods to eat and avoid while taking glipizide.
What is Glipizide?
Glipizide is an oral medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. Common brand names for glipizide include Glucotrol and Glucotrol XL, which is an extended-release version of Glucotrol. The generic versions are glipizide and glipizide ER, which are less expensive than the brand names.
Glipizide is in a drug class called sulfonylureas, which works by stimulating your pancreas to secrete more insulin (insulin is the hormone that lowers your blood sugar).
Glipizide was approved to treat type 2 diabetes in 2002 and isn’t meant to treat type 1 diabetes. Other common sulfonylureas include glyburide and glimepiride.
Dosages of glipizide usually start at 5 milligrams and can be increased to a maximum of 40 milligrams daily, either once daily or split among two doses 12 hours apart.
You should try to take glipizide with meals to help reduce any stomach upset and to maximize effectiveness by reducing postprandial (after eating) blood sugar.
Compared to other types of sulfonylureas, glipizide comes with a lower risk of low blood sugar because it is absorbed quickly and has a shorter half-life (it remains in your system for less time).
However, taking glipizide with other medications that can lower your blood sugar (such as insulin) can increase your hypoglycemia risk because glipizide increases your insulin secretion.
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What are the side effects of Glipizide?
Like any medication, there are potential risks and side effects from taking glipizide.
The more common side effects of glipizide are:
- Feeling jittery
- Uncontrollable shaking of a part of your body
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Signs of a drug allergy to glipizide can include:
- Red or itchy skin
While rarer, you should watch out for these potentially serious side effects, which may indicate issues with your liver or other rare complications:
- Yellowing of your skin or eyes
- Light-colored stools
- Dark urine
- Pain in the upper right part of your stomach
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Sore throat
If you experience low blood sugar from taking glipizide, you might experience symptoms including:
- Fast heartbeat
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Irritability or confusion
What drugs can Glipizide interact with?
Glipizide might interact with certain drugs. Here are a few you should be aware of:
Taking aspirin with certain diabetes medications might increase your risk of low blood sugar. You should ask your healthcare provider if you need to discontinue taking aspirin if you start taking glipizide.
In addition, you shouldn’t start taking aspirin without first talking with your healthcare provider if you’re already taking glipizide.
GLP-1 receptor agonists
GLP-1 receptor agonists are among the newer classes of diabetes medications. Some examples of GLP-1 receptor agonists include non-insulin injectable medications and include drugs like Victoza, Ozempic, and Trulicity.
Taking these medications with sulfonylureas, like glipizide, can increase your risk of low blood sugar.
You should avoid taking insulin and sulfonylureas like glipizide together. Insulin comes with the greatest risk of low blood sugar among all diabetes medications.
The use of additional blood sugar-lowering medications like glipizide could cause severe low blood sugar, so you should avoid all types of insulin, including long-, short-, rapid-, and intermediate-acting insulins.
Glipizide condition interactions
Glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency
G6PD deficiency is a genetic disorder that causes red blood cells to be broken down, leading to anemia (low red blood cell count).
Certain medications are known to trigger G6PD deficiency, and sulfonylureas are considered one of them.
Therefore, you should ask your healthcare provider if glipizide is safe for you to take if you have this condition.
If you have a history of unexplained hypoglycemia, then glipizide probably won’t be the best choice for you.
Glipizide stimulates your pancreas to release insulin, the hormone that lowers your blood sugar. Taking glipizide may cause severe hypoglycemia if you’re already prone to having low blood sugar.
Some health conditions that can cause low blood sugar include:
- Severe liver cirrhosis (scarring) or hepatitis
- Severe infections
- Advanced heart disease
Glipizide is metabolized in your liver. If you have pre-existing liver problems, your healthcare provider may suggest a different medication that is metabolized in a different organ than your liver.
Glipizide is considered a category C drug for pregnancy, meaning that risk to the developing fetus can’t be ruled out.
However, healthcare providers may still suggest that pregnant mothers take glipizide during their pregnancy if the perceived benefits outweigh the risks.
Glipizide should be discontinued a month before the expected delivery date to minimize the risk of low blood sugar in the baby.
Type 1 diabetes/DKA
Glipizide is intended for use in people who still have functioning beta cells (beta cells in your pancreas are the ones responsible for making insulin).
If you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas has lost most, if not all, of its beta cell function. Taking glipizide for type 1 diabetes wouldn’t be effective, and it could cause a potentially life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which occurs when there isn’t enough insulin present.
Does alcohol interact with Glipizide?
While alcohol doesn’t necessarily interact with glipizide, it does increase your risk of developing low blood sugar.
You should exercise caution if you choose to drink alcohol while taking glipizide, while completely abstaining from alcohol is ideal.
You might be wondering how alcohol causes low blood sugar. When alcohol is metabolized in your liver, it temporarily reduces other processes in your liver. One of these processes is the production of stored sugar called glycogen.
When your glycogen stores are reduced, your body doesn’t have as much of a reserve to pull from if your blood sugar starts to drop.
In addition, alcohol can increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin, which is why drinking alcohol while taking glipizide could result in low blood sugar.
Foods to avoid when taking Glipizide
1. Foods and drinks with added sugar
Sugary beverages are the leading contributors to added sugar in a typical Western diet. Drinks like soda, sweetened teas, sugary coffee drinks, energy drinks, and many others are high in added sugar.
For instance, one 12-ounce can of a standard cola provides 39 grams of added sugar, which is beyond the daily recommended maximum of 24-36 grams per day.
Many processed foods also have added sugar. Some of the most common sources of added sugar include sucrose (table sugar or just “sugar”) and derivatives of fructose (fruit sugar), including high-fructose corn syrup and corn syrup.
Consuming foods and drinks high in added sugar can make it difficult to manage your blood sugar levels.
If you’re taking glipizide, it’s because your blood sugar is too high without it, so eating a diet low in added sugars can help you manage your diabetes more effectively.
2. Meals very high in fat
Very high-fat meals cause delayed stomach emptying because they take longer to digest. Eating high-fat meals can delay the rise in blood sugar after you eat.
This might be problematic if you take glipizide, and here’s why: if the food you eat isn’t available to be turned into blood sugar for a long time after you take glipizide (which is meant to be taken before a meal), it could start working to lower your blood sugar before your blood sugar rises from the high-fat meal.
This means that you might develop hypoglycemia because the food you ate took a long time to turn into sugar in your blood.
If you do plan to eat a high-fat meal, you might want to take your glipizide dose before a lower-fat meal that day.
Some examples of high-fat foods include:
- Beef (especially non-lean cuts)
- Pork (non-lean cuts)
- Poultry with the skin on
- Lard and cream
- Ice cream
- Coconut (including coconut oil)
- Palm oil and palm kernel oil
- Some baked and fried foods
Foods to eat when taking Glipizide
Eating protein with meals and snacks can help keep your blood sugar more stable. Protein is especially beneficial to include with carbohydrates, the nutrient that has the greatest impact on your blood sugar levels.
Carbohydrates are found in more significant amounts in grains, starchy vegetables, legumes, fruit, milk, yogurt, and any food or drink with added sugar.
Eating protein with these types of foods can help prevent blood sugar highs and lows, which is useful when you’re taking medications like glipizide which can lower your blood sugar.
Some excellent protein sources include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Soybeans/soy products
- Legumes (also a source of starch)
- Unsweetened dairy products like Greek yogurt and cheese
Speaking of carbohydrates, let’s dive a little more into their role in your blood sugar levels.
Carbohydrates (carbs) are broken down into blood sugar when they’re metabolized. Your body prefers carbs as its primary energy source because it’s the easiest way for it to obtain glucose.
Carbs aren’t bad at all – that’s a common myth when it comes to a diet for diabetes.
The important thing is to focus on fiber- and nutrient-rich carbs that are good for your health and can promote stable blood sugar levels, as well as keeping an eye on your portion sizes of carbs.
Eating a meal rich in carbs might raise your blood sugar, but not eating enough carbs could cause low blood sugar while you’re taking glipizide.
Aim to eat a consistent amount of healthy carbs with your meals and snacks, including:
- Fruits without added sugar
- Vegetables (especially non-starchy vegetables, which are essentially all veggies except potatoes, corn, peas, and winter squash)
- Whole grains (oatmeal, barley, whole wheat bread, etc.)
- Unsweetened dairy products like cow’s milk and yogurt
Glipizide is a sulfonylurea, a drug that stimulates your pancreas to release insulin.
If you have certain liver diseases, have a history of low blood sugar, have G6PD deficiency, or are pregnant, you may want to avoid glipizide. You shouldn’t take glipizide if you have type 1 diabetes.
You should avoid drinking alcohol while taking glipizide.
Glipizide might interact with aspirin and non-insulin diabetes medications and increase your risk for hypoglycemia. In addition, taking insulin with glipizide increases your risk of low blood sugar.