Dapagliflozin reduces blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes. It may be prescribed on its own or with other antidiabetic medicines.
Remember to follow any advice you have been given about your diet and taking exercise.
Make sure you know how to recognise the symptoms of low blood sugar. These include feeling shaky or anxious, sweating, looking pale, feeling hungry, having palpitations, and feeling dizzy.
|Type of medicine||Antidiabetic medicine|
|Used for||Type 2 diabetes mellitus in adults|
Insulin is a hormone which is made naturally in your body, in the pancreas. It helps to control the levels of sugar in your blood. If your body does not make enough insulin to meet its needs, or if it does not use the insulin it makes effectively, this results in the condition called diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes).
People with diabetes need treatment to control the amount of glucose (sugar) in their blood. This is because good control of blood sugar levels reduces the risk of complications later on. Some people can control the sugar in their blood by making changes to the food they eat but, for other people, medicines like dapagliflozin are given alongside changes in diet.
Dapagliflozin works on your kidneys to increase the amount of sugar that your body removes in urine. You may be prescribed it to take on its own, or with other antidiabetic medicines.
Before taking dapagliflozin
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking dapagliflozin it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby, or breast-feeding.
- If you have any problems with your kidneys or liver.
- If you have low blood pressure.
- If you have heart or blood vessel disease.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take dapagliflozin
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about dapagliflozin tablets and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking them.
- Take dapagliflozin exactly as your doctor has told you to. The usual dose is one 10 mg tablet daily, although some people may be asked to take a smaller 5 mg dose to begin with. Swallow the tablet with a drink of water - you can take it before or after a meal.
- You can take dapagliflozin at a time of day which suits you, but try to take your doses at the same time of day each day. This will help you to remember to take them.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember as long as it is more than 12 hours before your next dose is due. If it is less than 12 hours until your next dose, skip the missed dose but remember to take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Continue to take dapagliflozin regularly - treatment for diabetes is lifelong.
- It is important that you keep your regular doctor's and clinic appointments. This is so your progress can be monitored. You are likely to need regular check-ups with an eye clinic and a foot clinic as well as with your doctor and diabetes clinic.
- Your doctor will recommend that you test for sugar in your blood regularly to check that your diabetes is being controlled. Your doctor or diabetes nurse will show you how to do this.
- If you have been given advice by your doctor about changes to your diet, stopping smoking or taking regular exercise, it is important for you to follow the advice you have been given.
- Check with your doctor before taking up any new physical exercise, as this will have an effect on your blood sugar levels and you may need to check your blood levels more regularly.
- Drinking alcohol while you are on dapagliflozin will affect the control of your blood sugar. Ask your doctor for advice about what limits are recommended for you.
- If you are due to have an operation or dental treatment, you should tell the person carrying out the treatment that you have diabetes and are taking dapagliflozin.
- Dapagliflozin is likely to make you pass more urine. If you get unusually thirsty or feel very tired then let your doctor know as your dose may need adjusting.
- If you are a driver you should take special care, as your ability to concentrate may be affected if your diabetes is not well controlled. Make sure you know what it feels like if your blood sugar is low. This is known as hypoglycaemia or a 'hypo'. The first signs of hypoglycaemia are: feeling shaky or anxious, sweating, looking pale, feeling hungry, having palpitations (a feeling that your heart is pounding), and feeling dizzy. If these happen you should eat or drink something containing sugar or have a snack straightaway. It is advisable to check your blood sugar levels before you travel on long journeys and to have a snack with you.
Can dapagliflozin cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common dapagliflozin side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Symptoms of hypoglycaemia: feeling shaky or anxious, sweating, looking pale, feeling hungry, feeling that your heart is pounding, feeling dizzy||Eat something containing sugar, such as a biscuit or a sugary drink (not diet), and follow this up with a snack such as a sandwich. Tell your doctor if you notice these symptoms|
|Back pain, urine and genital infections, difficulties passing urine||If troublesome, speak with your doctor|
|Changes to some blood tests||Your doctor will check for this|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store dapagliflozin
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Forxiga® 5 mg & 10 mg film-coated tablets; Bristol Myers Squibb-AstraZeneca EEIG, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated November 2012.
- British National Formulary; 65th Edition (Mar 2013) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr John Cox