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First Aid for Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose

Last updated June 24, 2017

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose is the accidental or intentional intake of the medications in dosage higher than prescribed values.


What is Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose?

  • Oral hypoglycemics are medications that are used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Hence, they are also known as anti-diabetic medications
  • Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose is the accidental or intentional intake of the medications in dosage higher than prescribed values
  • The condition is diagnosed based upon the clinical history, combination of signs and symptoms, and additional tests (that may include, in some cases, radiological studies and laboratory tests)

Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose may be also referred to variously as the following:

  • Alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitors Overdose
  • Diabetes Pill Overdose
  • Metformin Overdose
  • Oral Hypoglycaemic Overdose
  • Sulfonylurea Overdose
  • Sulfonylureas Overdose
  • Thiazolidinediones Overdose

What are the Causes of Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose?

  • Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose is caused by the intake of oral hypoglycemic medication in dosage that is higher than prescribed
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • It is sold as Acetohexamide (Dymelor), Chlorpropamide (Diabinese), Glipizide (Glucotrol), Glyburide (DiaBeta, Micronase), Glimepiride (Amaryl), Tolbutamide (Orinase), and Tolazamide (Tolinase) among others

Note: The drug can interact with other prescribed or non-prescribed medications in the body. Such interactions may enhance the therapeutic effects of the drug or other medications being taken, resulting in undesired side effects (such as an overdose).

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose?

The signs and symptoms of Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. Several systems of the body may be affected.

The signs and symptoms of Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose may include:

  • Increase in hunger
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Presence of tingling sensation in the mouth (lips and tongue may be affected)
  • Increased heart-rate
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Confusion and increased nervousness
  • Tremors and seizures (mostly observed in young children)
  • Coma

How is First Aid administered for Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose?

First Aid tips for Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose:

  • If the individual with Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose is in a coma, or is experiencing life-threatening symptoms, call 911 (or your local emergency help number) immediately
  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or your local poison control center) for further instructions
  • Provide them with information such as dosage, type of drug taken, strength and time of ingestion of medication, age, weight and general health status of affected individual
  • Confirm that the airways are protected; also, ensure breathing and the presence of pulse
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
  • Always try to take the medication strip/bottle/container to the ER

The emergency medical health professional might perform the following steps towards treating the condition:

  • Gastric lavage for elimination of drug from the stomach (irrigation using special solutions)
  • Medically manage symptoms, such as abnormal heart rate and seizures
  • Provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Administer activated charcoal to avoid absorbance of drug in the body
  • Administer laxatives for elimination of drug from the body
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line

Who should administer First Aid for Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose?

First aid for Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose is administered by healthcare professionals.

  • The individual who overdosed, or someone near, should call 911 for emergency assistance (or the local emergency number)
  • They should also call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow instructions

What is the Prognosis of Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose?

  • The prognosis of Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose is dependent on the amount of drug consumed, time between overdose and treatment, severity of the symptoms, as well as general health status of the patient
  • Typically, recovery may take a few days (till blood sugar levels return to normal values), since the drug may affect the body for prolonged periods
  • Serious symptoms may develop in younger populations (children) and older adults. The effects of overdose may result in permanent injury such as brain damage
  • Severe cases of overdose by oral hypoglycemics are even known to be fatal

In general, overdoses are common situations in the emergency departments. A majority of the cases are often not fatal, when appropriate treatment is given.

How can Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose be Prevented?

Oral Hypoglycemics Overdose can be prevented by:

  • Always taking the right dose of medication at recommended times
  • Avoiding drugs that might interact with oral hypoglycemics
  • Talking to your healthcare provider, if recommended dose of oral hypoglycemics does not provide pain relief or reduce swelling
  • Refrain from self-medication
  • Exercising caution while taking multiple drugs with oral hypoglycemics
  • Keeping medications out of reach of children in child-proof containers
  • For older individuals and those who tend to be forgetful, medications should be stored in single dose containers with time labels, to avoid multiple dosage
  • Monitor intake of this drug especially in patients, who have depression or harbor suicidal thoughts and behavior

It is important to give your healthcare provider a complete list of prescription and non-prescription medications that are being currently taken. This will help them in assessing the possible drug interactions within various medications and help avoid/prevent accidental or unintentional toxic drug effects.

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number) for emergency assistance, if symptoms are life-threatening
  • Call Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow the recommend steps
  • It would be helpful if the following information is readily available:
    • Type, dosage and time of administration of medication
    • Age and weight of the individual
    • And, the overall health status of the individual

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: June 24, 2017
Last updated: June 24, 2017