If you have type 2 diabetes, a healthcare provider may prescribe Byetta to help lower blood sugar levels. The drug comes in the form of an injection. The injection is given twice a day and is administered just under the skin of the thigh, abdomen, or upper arm. As with any medication, there are potential side effects of Byetta, such as nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness.
What Is Byetta?Byetta® (exenatide) is a prescription medication licensed to treat type 2 diabetes (also known as noninsulin-dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes). Although Byetta is taken by injection, it is not a form of insulin and is not intended to treat type 1 diabetes. Interestingly, Byetta was first discovered in the saliva of gila monster lizards.
(Click What is Byetta Used For? for more information on what Byetta is used for, including possible off-label uses.)
How Does It Work?Byetta is an incretin mimetic. This means that it mimics the actions of incretin hormones in the body. As an incretin mimetic, Byetta increases insulin production in response to meals and decreases the amount of glucose (sugar) that the liver produces. It also slows the emptying of food from the stomach, which reduces the amount of food that people eat.
Because incretin hormones are more active in response to higher blood sugar levels (and are less active in response to low blood sugar), the risk of dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is low with Byetta. However, combining Byetta with other diabetes medications to lower blood sugar can increase the risk of hypoglycemia (see Byetta and Blood Sugar).