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Actos "Insulin Sensitizer"

Why do I need Actos?

Actos is one of six types of diabetes pills currently used to treat type 2 diabetes. It will help keep your blood glucose levels within your target range by making your body more sensitive to insulin.

Remember, the cornerstone of diabetes control is unchanged: it is important to follow a meal plan and to get plenty of physical activity. Diabetes pills are another tool to help manage your blood glucose.

How does Actos work?

  • Actos improves how the body uses insulin.
  • Actos decreases the amount of glucose released by the liver.
  • Actos does not cause the body to make more insulin, therefore, when used alone, it does not cause low blood glucose (hypoglycemia).

Guidelines for use

  • Actos can be taken with or without food.
  • Some medications similar to Actos have caused liver problems. Although Actos has not been associated with liver problems, your healthcare provider will check your liver function prior to your using the medication and then every two months for the first year. After the first year of Actos use, liver function tests should be done periodically.
  • To further improve your blood glucose control, your healthcare provider may have you use Actos in combination with another diabetes pill or with insulin.
  • When Actos is used with insulin or a group of diabetes pills called sulfonylureas, you could experience low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). The amount of insulin or dose of sulfonylurea may need to be changed. Notify your healthcare provider if:
    • The fasting (before breakfast) blood glucose result drops to 100 mg/dl.
    • You experience symptoms of low blood glucose (sweaty, shaky, confused).

What should I do if I forget to take my dose?

If you forget your dose at the usual time, take it later that same day. If you forget for an entire day, however, do not "double" the dose the next day, just resume taking your Actos as usual. If you are unsure of what to do, call your healthcare provider.

Does Actos have any risk factors associated with pregnancy?

Some medications similar to Actos decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives (birth control pills). Because it is not known if Actos increases the risk for pregnancy when oral contraceptives are used, an alternate birth control method should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

Actos may also increase the risk of pregnancy in some premenopausal women unless adequate contraception is used.

What are the side effects of Actos?

Side effects of Actos may include:

  • Headache
  • Sinusitis
  • Muscle aches
  • Swelling or fluid retention

Who should avoid taking Actos?

  • Actos should not be used by persons with a history of liver problems or severe heart problems. If you have a history of these disorders, discuss it with your health team.
  • The safety of using Actos in pregnant women has not been established. A woman should tell her healthcare provider immediately if she becomes pregnant or is planning pregnancy so the right medication can be prescribed.
  • People with type 1 diabetes will not need Actos.

How will I know if Actos is working?

Check your blood glucose at the times specified by your healthcare provider. If your glucose or A1C is within target most of the time, the dose is working. If not, review the amount and types of food eaten or if you have forgotten to take the prescribed dose of your medication. If the blood glucose remains high, contact your healthcare provider. A change in dose may be needed.

For more information, you may want to purchase our book What You Need to Know About Diabetes - A Short Guide, which can be ordered online.

    Page last updated: October 15, 2019