SGLT2 inhibitors are a class of medications used to treat type 2 diabetes. They’re also called sodium-glucose transport protein 2 inhibitors or gliflozins.
SGLT2 inhibitors prevent the reabsorption of glucose from blood that’s filtered through your kidneys, therefore facilitating glucose excretion in the urine. This helps reduce your blood sugar levels.
Read on to learn more about the different types of SGLT2 inhibitors, as well as the potential benefits and risks of adding this type of medication to your treatment plan.
To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved four types of SGLT2 inhibitors to treat type 2 diabetes:
- canagliflozin (Invokana)
- dapagliflozin (Farxiga)
- empagliflozin (Jardiance)
- ertugliflozin (Steglatro)
Other types of SGLT2 inhibitors are being developed and tested in clinical trials.
SGLT2 inhibitors are oral medications. They’re available in pill form.
If your doctor adds an SGLT2 inhibitor to your treatment plan, they’ll advise you to take it once or twice a day.
In some cases, your doctor might prescribe an SGLT2 inhibitor along with other diabetes medications. For example, this class of medication may be combined with metformin.
A combination of diabetes medications might help you keep your blood sugar level within target range. It’s important to take the proper dose of each medication to stop your blood sugar level from dropping too low.
When taken alone or with other diabetes medications, SGLT2 inhibitors can help lower your blood sugar levels. This reduces your chances of developing complications from type 2 diabetes.
According to a 2018 study published in the journal Diabetes Care, scientists report SGLT2 inhibitors may also promote weight loss and modest improvements in your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
A 2019 review found that SGLT2 inhibitors were linked to lower risk of stroke, heart attack, and death from cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes and hardened arteries.
The same review found that SGLT2 inhibitors may slow the progression of kidney disease.
Keep in mind, the potential benefits of SGLT2 inhibitors vary from one person to another, depending on their medical history.
To learn more about this type of medication, and whether it’s a good fit for your treatment plan, talk to your doctor.
SGLT2 inhibitors are generally considered safe, but in some cases, they can cause side effects.
For example, taking this type of medication may raise your risk of developing:
- urinary tract infections
- non-sexually transmitted genital infections, such as yeast infections
- diabetic ketoacidosis, which causes your blood to become acidic
- hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar
In rare cases, serious genital infections have been
Some research also suggests that canagliflozin might increase the risk of bone fractures. These adverse effects haven’t been linked to other SGLT2 inhibitors.
Your doctor can let you know more about the potential risks of taking SGLT2 inhibitors. They can also help you learn how to recognize and manage any possible side effects.
If you think you might be experiencing side effects from medication, contact your doctor right away.
Whenever you add a new medication to your treatment plan, it’s important to consider how it might interact with medications you already take.
If you take other diabetes medications to lower your blood sugar levels, adding an SGLT2 inhibitor increases your risk of developing low blood sugar.
In addition, if you’re taking certain types of diuretics, SGLT2 inhibitors can increase the diuretic effect of those medications, making you urinate more often. That can raise your risk of dehydration and low blood pressure.
Before you start taking a new medication or supplement, ask your doctor if it could interact with anything in your existing treatment plan.
In some cases, your doctor might make changes to your prescribed treatment to lower your risk of negative drug interactions.
SGLT2 inhibitors are designed to help manage blood sugar in people living with type 2 diabetes.
In addition to reducing blood sugar levels, this class of medication has been found to have cardiovascular and kidney benefits. Although they’re generally considered safe, SGLT2 inhibitors sometimes cause side effects or negative interactions with certain drugs.
Your doctor can tell you more about the potential benefits and risks of adding this type of medication to your treatment plan.