If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor might suggest Byetta (exenatide) as a treatment option for you.
Byetta is a prescription medication that’s used to manage hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). It’s used along with exercise and a healthy diet to treat type 2 diabetes in adults.
Byetta belongs to a group of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists.
This article describes the dosages of Byetta, as well as its form, strengths, and how to use the drug. To learn more about Byetta, see this in-depth article.
Note: This article covers Byetta’s typical dosages, which are provided by the drug’s manufacturer. But always use the dosage that your doctor prescribes.
Byetta is given as an injection under the skin. You’ll give yourself injections in your upper arm, abdomen (belly), or thigh.
Your doctor will show you how to self-inject Byetta when you first start the treatment. You can also ask your pharmacist to show you the best way to give yourself your Byetta doses.
For details about how to self-inject Byetta, see these step-by-step instructions.
The information below describes commonly used dosages. Your dosing frequency (how often you use Byetta) will depend on how you respond to the drug. Your doctor will decide on the right dosage for you. Be sure to follow your doctor’s guidance to use the exact dosage prescribed for you.
What is Byetta’s form?
Byetta comes as a liquid solution in disposable pens. Each pen has 60 doses.
What strengths does Byetta come in?
Byetta comes in two strengths: 5 micrograms (mcg) of Byetta per dose in 1.5 milliliters (mL) of solution and 10 mcg of Byetta per dose in 2.4 mL of solution.
What are the typical dosages of Byetta?
Typically, your doctor will start you on a low dosage of Byetta. Then they’ll adjust your dosage after 1 month to reach the right amount for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that has the desired effect.
The information below describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. But be sure to use the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
The typical starting dosage of Byetta is 5 mcg injected twice per day. You’ll use this dosage for 1 month to see how well it manages your blood sugar levels. After this, depending on how you respond to Byetta, your doctor may increase your dosage to 10 mcg injected twice per day.
If Byetta isn’t effective for you, or you experience serious side effects, your doctor may decrease your dosage or switch you to a different drug.
You should inject your Byetta doses 1 hour before each of your two main meals (for example, breakfast and dinner). If you don’t eat much for breakfast, you could inject your first dose in the hour before lunch. The two doses should be at least 6 hours apart.
Once you decide when to have your two daily doses, try to stick with this schedule. This will help keep your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day.
Is Byetta used long term?
Yes, Byetta is typically used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Byetta is safe and effective for you, it’s likely that you’ll use it long term.
You and your doctor will regularly monitor your blood sugar levels while you’re using Byetta. You may need dosage adjustments, depending on:
- your health (other conditions you may have besides diabetes)
- your blood sugar levels
- other medications you may be taking
- your age
- if you have renal (kidney) problems
- if you have problems with your pancreas
If you have questions about whether Byetta is safe for you because of your health conditions or other factors, talk with your doctor.
Below are answers to some asked questions about Byetta. If you have other questions about the drug, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Is Byetta used for weight loss? If so, what’s the dosage?
No, Byetta is not approved for use as a weight loss drug. But because Byetta is used along with a healthy diet and exercise program, you may lose weight while using the drug.
It’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely during your Byetta treatment. Losing weight and using Byetta along with making diet and exercise changes can reduce your blood sugar levels. It can be dangerous if your levels drop too low.
If you have questions or concerns about losing weight during your Byetta treatment, talk with your doctor.
Is there a weekly dose of Byetta I could use, instead of daily doses?
No. Byetta doesn’t come in a weekly dose. It only comes as self-injection pens that are used twice per day.
But Bydureon, which has the same active ingredient as Byetta (exenatide), is a long-acting drug that’s used once per week. Like Byetta, it’s given with a self-injection pen.
To learn more about how these drugs are similar and different, see this comparison. If you have questions about which diabetes treatment is right for you, talk with your doctor.
Byetta is a liquid solution that comes in prefilled disposable pens. It’s given as an injection under your skin in your upper arm, thigh, or abdomen (belly). You’ll give yourself Byetta injections at home after your doctor shows you how to use the self-injection pens. You can also follow these step-by-step instructions.
Here are a few tips for giving yourself Byetta injections at home:
- Be sure to wash your hands before handling your Byetta pen and needles.
- Gather your supplies (alcohol swab, Byetta pen, needle, needle disposal container) before you start.
- Check to make sure you’re using the correct pen for your Byetta treatment.
- Use a new needle each time you inject Byetta, and dispose of the old needle properly after use.
- Rotate your injection sites between your upper arm, abdomen (belly), and thigh.
- Keep track of when you inject your doses, and try to stick to the same schedule each day.
Follow your doctor’s dosing instructions carefully when giving yourself a dose. You can also ask your pharmacist to show you how to use the injection pen if you still have questions.
It’s important to give yourself Byetta doses on a regular schedule to keep your blood sugar levels within a normal range.
If you forget to inject a dose of Byetta 60 minutes before a main meal, don’t have the dose after you eat. Instead, just skip the missed dose and inject your next dose at its regular time. Be sure to check your blood sugar levels regularly so you can maintain steady levels.
You shouldn’t inject two doses of Byetta at once. This can drop your blood sugar level dangerously low and cause serious side effects.
If you need help remembering to inject Byetta on time, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm, downloading a reminder app, or setting a timer on your phone. A kitchen timer can work, too.
The dosage of Byetta you’re prescribed may depend on several factors. These include:
- the type and severity of the condition you’re using Byetta to treat
- your age
- other medications you may be taking
- other conditions you may have (see “Dosage adjustments” under “What is Byetta’s dosage?”)
Don’t use more Byetta than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to serious side effects, such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Symptoms of overdose
Symptoms of overdose can include:
- severe nausea and vomiting
- rapid drop in blood sugar levels, which can cause symptoms such as:
- fast heartbeat
- blurred vision
- feeling weak or tired
What to do in case you use too much Byetta
Call your doctor right away if you think you’ve used too much Byetta. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers, or use their online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately or go to the nearest emergency room.
The sections above describe the typical dosages provided by the drug’s manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Byetta for you, they will prescribe the dosage that’s right for you.
Remember, you shouldn’t change your dosage of Byetta without your doctor’s recommendation. Only use Byetta exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your current dosage.
If you’re new to using Byetta, it’s natural to have questions about your treatment. Your doctor can tell you more about your specific dosage. They can also explain how Byetta (along with diet and exercise changes) can help manage your type 2 diabetes.
Here are a few questions you may consider asking your doctor:
- Will I ever need more than two doses of Byetta per day?
- Will my dosage of Byetta need to change if I’m taking other drugs along with it?
- Can I have half a dose with my self-injection pen?
For tips on managing your condition and other helpful information, sign up for Healthline’s type 2 diabetes newsletter.
Could I continue using the 5-microgram (mcg) dose of Byetta long term, rather than having my dose increased?Anonymous patient
Possibly. It depends on how well your blood sugar is managed with the 5-mcg dose. If your blood sugar is stable, your doctor will likely have you use the same dose long term. But your doctor may increase your dose to 10 mcg, as needed, if your blood sugar remains high.
If you have questions about the Byetta dose that’s right for you, talk with your doctor.Dana Kim, PharmDAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.