Actos Side Effects

by on July 22, 2011


Common side effects of Actos (Pioglitazone) manifest in different ways, but are most often a result of the alterations in blood sugar caused by the drug. These side effects include hypoglycemia (accompanied by shakiness, sweating, weakness, and headache), as well as hyperglycemia (characterized by weakness, hunger, frequent urination, and blurred vision). Additional and more serious side effects include vision loss, jaundice, nausea, excessive tiredness, and shortness of breath.

Common Actos Side Effects


The most common side effects of Actos are often associated with fluctuations in blood sugar. Some side effects occur as a result of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and most often arise in patients being treated simultaneously with other anti-diabetic drugs. These effects include:

  • Shakiness
  • Lightheadedness and physical weakness
  • Hunger
  • Sweating
  • Runny Nose
  • Tooth and muscle ache
  • Nervousness and confusion
  • Drastic mood swings
  • Headache
  • Numbness or tingling sensations, particularly around the mouth
  • Clumsiness
  • Sore throat


Another set of side effects, also arising from sudden changes in blood sugar levels, result from hyperglycemia (high blood pressure). These symptoms include:

  • Weakness
  • Hunger
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Excessive thirst
  • Blurred vision

Serious Actos Side Effects

More serious hypoglycemic and hypoglycemic side effects of Actos can escalate into more serious conditions if gone untreated. These symptoms may include:

  • Vision loss
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice
  • Chronic fatigue or lethargy
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty breathing

Those experiencing these side effects should seek immediate medical attention, as they may also be indicative of a more serious form of diabetes. They may also indicate congestive heart failure or bladder cancer, both of which have been linked to long-term Actos use.

Side Effects in Men vs. Women

For the most part, men and women experience similar side effects when using Actos. However, in a recent clinical trial, women on Actos proved more susceptible to bone fracture than men. Women’s increased reports of fractures (which most often occurred in the extremities) may be linked to the fact that women are also more prone to calcium deficiency. This deficiency may have been exacerbated by the activity of the drug, so women taking Actos should be sure to take calcium supplements.


Actos is generally not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. As is the case with many potent prescription medications for chronic conditions, the effects of the drug on both mother and child during and directly after the gestational period are not fully known. As a safety precaution, pregnant women or those who are trying to become pregnant are advised to find an alternate course of treatment for their type 2 diabetes. Due to the lack of conclusive research, Actos is also not recommended for children under the age of 18.

Weight Side Effects

Weight gain is a commonly reported side effect of Actos, though generally it is not excessive. On average, patients have reported a gain of between two and six pounds over period of approximately six months. It is important to note, however, that rapid weight gain within a short period of time may also be indicative of congestive heart failure. Patients experiencing excessive gains along with swelling of the arms, hands, and/or lower leg area should seek immediate medical attention, as these symptoms may signal an impending heart attack.

Individuals taking Actos face a near inevitability of experiencing at least one of the above symptoms. For this reason, it is important that patients maintain close contact with their physicians. Despite these negative secondary effects, however, Actos has been approved safe for use by the FDA. In fact, it was named one of the top ten best-selling drugs in the United States recently, proving that physicians stand behind it as one of the most effective treatments for diabetes.