Thiazolidinediones (TZDs)

What are thiazolidinediones (TZDs)?

Thiazolidinediones (TZDs) are a type of medication that can be used to treat adults with type 2 diabetes.

For some adults with type 2 diabetes, TZD medicines can help to control blood sugar levels. TZDs work by increasing insulin sensitivity, which means that a person’s body responds more effectively to the insulin that it naturally produces to transport glucose out of the bloodstream and into the body’s tissues. This can reduce the amount of insulin that your body needs to use to transport the same amount of glucose. TZDs also decrease liver glucose production. In some people, taking a TZD medication can also help to protect the function of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

TZD medicines are sold under the brand names:

What is Avandia (rosiglitazone)?

Avandia (rosiglitazone) is a TZD medication that can be used to help adults with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels. It is for use in addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Avandia is oral medication taken in tablet form once or twice a day with or without food. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about how to take Avandia. It can take weeks or even months of taking Avandia for it to take full effect. Your healthcare provider will need to do blood tests to check that your liver is functioning well before starting treatment with Avandia, and continue to do regular liver function tests throughout treatment. You will also need to check your blood sugar levels regularly. People who are allergic to any of the ingredients in Avandia (rosiglitazone) should not use it. Always check with your healthcare professional about any potential drug interactions before starting treatment.

According to AACE guidelines, Avandia can be prescribed cautiously for certain people who are unable to control their blood sugar, and:

  • Need to try a diabetes medication for the first time in addition to lifestyle management (healthy diet, exercise, and weight loss)
  • Need to try adding on an additional medication because they have already tried treatment with one or more other medications for type 2 diabetes

Some of the most common side effects of Avandia are:

In some people, taking Avandia can cause very serious side effects, including:

  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Swelling
  • Liver problems
  • Eye/vision problems
  • Bone fractures
  • Anemia (low levels of red blood cells)
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Ovulation, which can increase a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant

These conditions can be very serious and even life threatening, so it is very important to talk with your healthcare providers about the symptoms of these conditions and let them know right away if you develop any symptoms or side effects during treatment with Avandia (rosiglitazone) or any other medicine for type 2 diabetes.

What is Actos (pioglitazone)?

Actos (pioglitazone) is a TZD medication for adults with type 2 diabetes that can help to control blood sugar levels. Actos should be used in addition to following a healthy diet and regular schedule of physical exercise.

Actos is usually taken by mouth in a tablet once per day, but be sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for use. Before starting treatment with Actos and regularly during treatment, your healthcare provider will carry out blood tests to make sure that your liver is functioning well. People who are allergic to any of the ingredients in Actos (pioglitazone) should not use it. Always check with your healthcare professional about any potential drug interactions before starting treatment.

According to AACE guidelines, Actos can be prescribed cautiously for certain people who are unable to control their blood sugar, and:

  • Need to try a diabetes medication for the first time in addition to lifestyle management (healthy diet, exercise, and weight loss)
  • Need to try adding on an additional medication because they have already tried treatment with one or more other medications for type 2 diabetes

Some of the most common side effects reported by people who take ACTOS include:

  • Edema
  • Weight gain
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Sinus infections
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat

In some people, treatment with Actos can cause side effects that can be very serious. These include:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Liver problems
  • Increased risk of bladder cancer
  • Swelling
  • Vision problems
  • Circulation problems

Some of these conditions can be extremely serious, so it is very important to talk with your healthcare providers about the symptoms of these possible side effects. Let your healthcare provider know right away if you experience any side effects from taking Actos or any other medication to treat type 2 diabetes.

Written by: Anna Nicholson | Last reviewed: April 2017
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