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Definition:

Oral hypoglycemic pills are a class of medications used to control diabetes. Oral means "taken by mouth." There are many different types of oral hypoglycemics. This article focuses on a class called sulfonylureas.

An overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally takes more than the normal or recommended amount of this medication.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.



Alternative Names:

Diabetes pill overdose; Sulfonylurea overdose



Poisonous Ingredient:

There are many types of oral hypoglycemics. The poisonous ingredient depends on the specific drug. The main (active) ingredient in sulfonylurea-based oral hypoglycemics stimulates cells in the pancreas to produce more insulin.



Where Found:

Sulfonylurea-based oral hypoglycemics are sold under a variety of brand names. Some are listed below.

  • Acetohexamide (Dymelor)
  • Chlorpropamide (Diabinese)
  • Glipizide (Glucotrol)
  • Glyburide (DiaBeta, Micronase)
  • Glimepiride (Amaryl)
  • Tolbutamide (Orinase)
  • Tolazamide (Tolinase)
Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.

Symptoms:

Home Treatment:



Before Calling Emergency:

Determine the following information:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed


Poison Control, or a local emergency number:

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

See: Poison control center - emergency number



What to expect at the emergency room:

The health care provider will measure and monitor your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. You may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Blood tests to measure blood glucose
  • Laxative
  • Sugar solution given through a vein (IV)
  • Tube through the nose into the stomach to empty the stomach (gastric lavage)


Expectations (prognosis):

Some of these medications may stay in the body for a long time, so the individual need to be watched for several days. Death is possible, especially if an abnormal blood glucose level is not corrected in a timely manner.




Review Date: 2/3/2009
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Eric Perez, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (1/23/2008).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100