If your doctor has prescribed a non-insulin diabetes medication such as Byetta (exenatide), Symlin (pramlintide), or Victoza (liraglutide) to help control your blood sugar levels, there are few side effects you should know about. Although many are minor and don’t require medical attention, be sure to let your doctor know about any side effects you experience, especially if they become severe.

Common Side Effects

Typical side effects may include:
• Mild to moderate nausea
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Dizziness
• Drowsiness
• Weakness
• Sweating

Many of these tend to go away during treatment as your body gets used to the medication.

Signs of Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)

Although when taken by themselves, these medications usually do not cause low blood sugar, this condition may occur when they’re taken with other diabetes meds.

You may have low blood sugar if you experience any of the following:
• Headache
• Drowsiness
• Hunger
• Rapid heartbeat
• Sudden sweating
• Jittery
• Blurry vision
• Tingling hands or feet

If you don’t have a glucose tablet or gel handy, you can quickly raise your blood sugar by drinking a fruit juice or eating a piece of candy. Let your doctor know right away about the incident.

Signs of High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)

You may have high blood sugar if you experience any of the following:
• Thirst
• Drowsiness
• Rapid breathing
• Confusion
• Increased urination

Tell your doctor right away if any of these symptoms occur.

Rare But Serious Side Effects

Though these side effects are typically rare, get immediate medical attention if any of the following occurs:

Allergic reactions: Watch for these signs of a serious allergic reaction:
• Itching or swelling (tongue, face, throat)
• Rash
• Severe dizziness
• Difficulty breathing

Kidney problems: Cases of kidney problems have been reported for people who have taken exenatide.

Pancreatitis: Clinical studies have shown that there may be a link between taking these diabetes medications and inflammation of the pancreas.

Symptoms include:
• Severe stomach or abdominal pain
• Persistent and severe nausea and vomiting

Thyroid cancer: Some lab studies have shown a link between these drugs and thyroid tumors in rats. The risk for humans developing these types of tumors from using these medications is unknown until more long-term studies have been done.

Symptoms to watch for include:
• Swelling or a lump in the throat
• Hoarseness or difficulty swallowing
• Shortness of breath

If you’re experiencing discomfort, talk to your care team for tips on how to ease side effects. Let your doctor know right away if you notice any unusual or severe side effects.

“Byetta.” Physicians’ Desk Reference.

“Byetta, Victoza, Byureon: Diabetes Drugs and Weight Loss.” Mayo Clinic.

“Liraglutide (Subcutaneous Route).” Mayo Clinic.

“Other Injectable Medications.” American Diabetes Association.