Diazoxide is for the treatment of long-term low blood sugar levels caused by your pancreas producing too much insulin.
The tablets are usually taken two or three times a day.
Remember to keep your regular doctor's appointments so that your progress can be monitored.
|Type of medicine||Thiazide|
|Used for||Chronic hypoglycaemia|
Diazoxide is used to treat a condition called chronic (long-term) hypoglycaemia. People with this condition have low amounts of sugar in their blood. You will have been prescribed diazoxide if the low levels of sugar in your blood are caused by your pancreas producing too much insulin. Insulin is the hormone that controls the levels of sugar in your blood. Your pancreas can produce too much insulin if you have a growth in your pancreas, or if you have a higher number of insulin-producing cells (called islet cells) than normal. Diazoxide works by increasing blood sugar levels.
Alongside diazoxide, you may also be prescribed a diuretic, or 'water' tablet. This is because diazoxide can cause fluid retention, and taking a diuretic will help prevent this.
Before taking diazoxide
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 diazoxide it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have heart disease or blood pressure problems.
- If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have ever had gout.
- 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 diazoxide
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the tablets and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking them.
- Your dose will be adjusted to suit your condition, so take the tablets exactly as your doctor tells you to. Your dose will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you. You will probably need to take the tablets two or three times a day. Try to take your doses at the same times each day, as this will help you to remember to take them.
- It may help to swallow the tablets with a drink of water. You can take them before or after meals.
- If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if when you remember, it is nearly time for your next dose, then leave out the forgotten dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. You will need to have blood tests and your doctor will want to monitor your blood pressure regularly. Children taking diazoxide will need their growth and development checked.
- Keep taking these tablets until your doctor tells you otherwise. Treatment with diazoxide is usually long-term.
- If you are having an operation or medical treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking diazoxide. This is because it can interfere with the way some anaesthetics work.
Can diazoxide cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Possible diazoxide side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling or being sick, lack of appetite||Nausea usually only lasts for the first couple of weeks. Stick to a simple, well-balanced diet of non-spicy foods|
|Feeling faint or dizzy, especially when you stand up||Getting up slowly may help. If you feel dizzy, sit down for a few moments until the feeling passes. Do not drive or use tools or machines while you feel dizzy|
|Feeling shaky, stiff awkward movements, or unusual eye movements||Let your doctor know as soon as possible|
|Swollen feet and ankles, a fast heartbeat, changes in body hair||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store diazoxide
- 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
- 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 Adrian Bonsall