Glucotrol (Glipizide) – Oral

What Is Glucotrol?

Glucotrol (glipizide) is a pill taken by mouth to lower the high blood sugar levels associated with type 2 diabetes. The generic name for Glucotrol is glipizide, and the tablet is usually taken once a day. There are many classes of drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes. Glipizide is in a class called sulfonylureas.

Lowering your blood sugar requires insulin, which is produced by your pancreas. Sulfonylurea drugs like Glucotrol work by helping your pancreas release insulin into your blood after eating a meal. Keeping your blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, within a normal range will help control type 2 diabetes and prevent possible kidney disease or nerve damage complications.

Glucotrol is a prescription product, so you can’t purchase it over the counter. You’ll receive a prescription from your healthcare provider and pick up the medication from your pharmacy.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Glipizide

Brand Name: Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL

Administration Route: Oral

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Hypoglycemic 

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Glipizide

Dosage Form: Tablet, extended-release tablet

What Is Glucotrol Used For?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Glucotrol to treat type 2 diabetes and the high blood sugar levels that come with the condition. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting over 6% of the world’s population–around 462 million people.

Early symptoms of type 2 diabetes may include: 

  • Excessive hunger or thirst
  • The need to urinate frequently
  • Fatigue
  • Tingling in the nerves
  • Blurry vision

Many people don’t notice any of these symptoms and are diagnosed due to lab tests during visits to their healthcare providers.

You may be switching to Glucotrol from a different diabetes medicine or adding it on as an additional drug. It may also be the first drug your healthcare provider prescribes after you're diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Glucotrol (Glipizide) Drug Information - Illustration by Dennis Madamba

Verywell / Dennis Madamba

How to Take Glucotrol

Glucotrol comes in two formulations. Glucotrol (glipizide) is the immediate-release formulation and Glucotrol XL (glipizide ER) is the extended-release formulation. The Glucotrol XL tablet is taken just once daily and releases the drug more slowly into your system.

Glucotrol (immediate-release glipizide):

  • You may start by taking this drug just once daily and then move up to taking it twice daily since it is removed from your system more quickly than glipizide ER.
  • Take Glucotrol 30 minutes before breakfast.
  • If you have trouble swallowing pills, you can crush the tablet before taking it. Use a pill crusher or crush it in a bowl with a spoon. Mix the medicine with a small amount of applesauce, juice, or water. Just make sure you finish the food or liquid containing the glipizide to get the full dose.

Glucotrol XL (extended-release glipizide):

  • Take Glucotrol XL right before you have breakfast.
  • Never chew, crush, or split the extended-release tablets, as this will make the tablet unable to be slowly released into your system over the course of the day. Swallow these tablets whole.

Storage

Store Glucotrol at room temperature (between 59 degrees and 86 degrees Fahrenheit) in the original container with the lid on. Keep it out of reach of children and pets. Avoid storing your pill bottle in an area with a lot of heat and moisture, like the bathroom.

If you’re traveling by plane, you’ll want to keep Glucotrol in your carry-on luggage so that you aren’t separated from it if your checked luggage goes missing. If you’re traveling by car, take care not to leave your pill bottle in especially hot or cold temperatures for long periods, like overnight in the car.

How Long Does Glucotrol Take to Work?

Immediate-release Glucotrol starts working very quickly, less than an hour after taking it. Glucotrol XL works over a longer time and does not start working quite as quickly as immediate release.

What Are the Side Effects of Glucotrol?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A medical professional can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a medical professional. You may report side effects to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Some more common side effects that you may experience while taking Glucotrol include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence, or gas
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness or having less energy than usual
  • Jitteriness or shakiness
  • Skin reactions, such as rash, hives, or blisters

Severe Side Effects

Potential severe side effects of Glucotrol include:

  • Hypoglycemia, or blood sugar levels below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Symptoms may include sweating, fast heart rate, shakiness, or dizziness
  • Leukopenia or agranulocytosis (low white blood cell counts), plus thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), all of which would need to be determined by lab tests run by your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you feel like you are experiencing serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Long-Term Side Effects

Some people who take Glucotrol for a long time may gradually lose their response to the medicine, meaning the drug may not lower your blood sugar as much as it did when you first started taking it. If this occurs, your provider will likely switch you to another medication that works to control your blood sugar levels.

Report Side Effects

Glucotrol may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Glucotrol Should I Take?

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The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For type 2 diabetes:
    • For oral dosage form (extended-release tablets):
      • Adults—At first, 5 milligrams (mg) once a day taken with breakfast. Your doctor may adjust your dose if needed. The dose is usually not more than 20 mg per day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For oral dosage form (tablets):
      • Adults—At first, 5 milligrams (mg) once a day taken at least 30 minutes before breakfast. Your doctor may adjust your dose if needed. The dose is usually not more than 40 mg per day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

In some cases, your healthcare provider may modify your treatment with Glucotrol by changing your dose or switching your medication altogether. 

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

If you are pregnant while using Glucotrol, your provider will tell you to stop taking it at least one month before the expected delivery date. This is because newborns have had hypoglycemia for four to 10 days after birth if their mothers were taking sulfonylurea drugs at the time of delivery.

During pregnancy, abnormal blood sugar levels may lead to a higher risk of birth defects. Insulin may be a better option to control diabetes than oral drugs such as glipizide during pregnancy.

Considerations are similar for breastfeeding. Other sulfonylurea drugs are known to pass into breast milk. However, it is not certain if Glucotrol specifically gets into breast milk. If you are breastfeeding, your provider may recommend controlling your sugar levels with insulin or diet.

Older Age

There have not been specific studies to determine whether older adults (above age 65) respond more or differently to Glucotrol compared to younger people. Symptoms of hypoglycemia like dizziness and shakiness can be harder to recognize in older adults, so they should always be started on a lower dose and monitored carefully.

Kidney or Liver Problems

Finally, if your kidneys or liver don’t work normally, you may start Glucotrol at a lower dose. Impaired kidney or liver function can lead to less glipizide being removed from your system, increasing your risk of side effects like hypoglycemia. You don’t need as much in the first place to get the same effect as someone whose kidneys or liver might work more efficiently.

Missed Dose

If you forget to take a dose of immediate-release Glucotrol, you can take it as soon as you remember. If you are closer to your next dose than the dose you missed, go ahead and skip the missed dose and wait for your next scheduled one.

For example, if you usually take Glucotrol at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., and you remember at 5 p.m. that you forgot your morning dose, just wait and take your next dose that night at 8 p.m. Do not double up doses to make up for missed ones.

If you take Glucotrol XL and realize you forgot a dose the same day, you can take it. Do not double up doses or take two doses of Glucotrol XL on the same day.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Glucotrol?

Because of the risk of hypoglycemia, taking Glucotrol exactly as it is prescribed to you is important. Symptoms of low blood sugar can include sweating, fast heart rate, or shakiness. If you feel like your blood sugar is low, you can take a glucose tab or drink 4 ounces (about half a cup) of soda or juice, but make sure it is not diet soda or sugar free.

If you are someone who checks your blood sugar, you can continue to monitor it and alert your healthcare provider about any changes. If you feel like the situation is severe or life-threatening, call 911 or go to the emergency room.

What Happens If I Overdose on Glucotrol?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Glucotrol, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Glucotrol, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

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It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

It is very important to follow carefully any instructions from your health care team about:

  • Alcohol—Drinking alcohol may cause severe low blood sugar. Discuss this with your health care team.
  • Counseling—Other family members need to learn how to prevent side effects or help with side effects if they occur. Also, patients with diabetes may need special counseling about diabetes medicine dosing changes that might occur because of lifestyle changes, such as changes in exercise and diet. Furthermore, counseling on contraception and pregnancy may be needed because of the problems that can occur in patients with diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Travel—Keep your recent prescription and your medical history with you. Be prepared for an emergency as you would normally. Make allowances for changing time zones and keep your meal times as close as possible to your usual meal times.
  • In case of emergency—There may be a time when you need emergency help for a problem caused by your diabetes. You need to be prepared for these emergencies. It is a good idea to wear a medical identification (ID) bracelet or neck chain at all times. Also, carry an ID card in your wallet or purse that says you have diabetes and a list of all of your medicines.

Check with your doctor right away if you start having chest pain or discomfort; nausea; pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back, or neck; shortness of breath; sweating; or vomiting while you are using this medicine. These may be symptoms of a serious heart problem, including a heart attack.

Glipizide can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). However, this can also occur if you delay or miss a meal or snack, drink alcohol, exercise more than usual, cannot eat because of nausea or vomiting, take certain medicines, or take glipizide with another type of diabetes medicine. The symptoms of low blood sugar must be treated before they lead to unconsciousness (passing out). Different people feel different symptoms of low blood sugar. It is important that you learn which symptoms of low blood sugar you usually have so you can treat it quickly. 

Symptoms of low blood sugar include anxiety; behavior change similar to being drunk; blurred vision; cold sweats; confusion; cool, pale skin; difficulty with thinking; drowsiness; excessive hunger; fast heartbeat; headache (continuing); nausea; nervousness; nightmares; restless sleep; shakiness; slurred speech; or unusual tiredness or weakness.

If symptoms of low blood sugar occur, eat glucose tablets or gel, corn syrup, honey, or sugar cubes; or drink fruit juice, non-diet soft drink, or sugar dissolved in water. Also, check your blood for low blood sugar. Glucagon is used in emergency situations when severe symptoms such as seizures (convulsions) or unconsciousness occur. Have a glucagon kit available, along with a syringe or needle, and know how to use it. Members of your household also should know how to use it.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Glucotrol?

Glucotrol is not or may not be the best choice for you if you have:

  • Type 1 diabetes: You shouldn’t take Glucotrol if you have type 1 diabetes because this drug works by helping your pancreas produce insulin. If your pancreas cannot produce insulin at all, as in type 1 diabetes, this drug will not work for you.
  • Malnutrition or an advanced liver or kidney disease: These conditions may make you more likely to experience hypoglycemia.
  • Become pregnant or are breastfeeding: If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should let your healthcare provider know and discuss whether Glucotrol is the best option during your pregnancy.
  • G6PD deficiency: You should let your healthcare provider know before using Glucotrol if you have a genetic disorder called G6PD deficiency. Using glipizide with this disorder can cause dangerous changes in red blood cell counts (anemia) and clotting and bleeding problems.

What Other Medications Interact With Glucotrol?

When starting any new medication, always make sure that your healthcare provider or providers know other medications you’re taking, such as Glucotrol.

The following drugs can lower your blood sugar or hide the symptoms of low blood sugar, so you’ll want to be extra aware of signs of hypoglycemia:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen), and Aleve (naproxen)
  • Azole antifungals like miconazole or fluconazole
  • Sulfonamides like the antibiotic Bactrim
  • Beta-blockers that are often used to treat high blood pressure or heart failure, such as Lopressor (metoprolol) or Inderal (propranolol)

On the other hand, these drugs may cause your blood sugar to increase:

  • Thiazides and other diuretics such as Microzide (hydrochlorothiazide), Thalitone (chlorthalidone), Lasix (furosemide)
  • Corticosteroids such as Medrol (methylprednisolone) or prednisone
  • Thyroid products such as Synthroid (levothyroxine)
  • Estrogens and oral contraceptives (birth control)
  • Calcium channel blocking drugs such as Cardizem (diltiazem), Verelan (verapamil), or Norvasc (amlodipine)

If you are going to be on these for a long time, your healthcare provider may want to increase your dose of Glucotrol so that your blood sugar can remain under control.

What Medications Are Similar to Glucotrol?

Other medications that also belong to the sulfonylurea class of drugs include:

  • Amaryl (glimepiride)
  • DiaBeta, Glynase (glyburide)
  • Orinase (tolbutamide)
  • Tolinase (tolazamide)

This is not a list of drugs recommended to take with Glucotrol. You should not take these drugs together. Ask your pharmacist or a healthcare practitioner if you have questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Glucotrol used for?

    Glucotrol is used to treat type 2 diabetes by controlling the high blood sugar levels that come with it. Glucotrol does not treat type 1 diabetes.

  • How does Glucotrol work?

    Glucotrol works by helping your pancreas release insulin into your bloodstream so that your blood sugar can be lowered. This is why Glucotrol will not treat type 1 diabetes. A person with type 1 diabetes is not able to produce any insulin.

  • What are the side effects of Glucotrol?

    The most important side effect you should be aware of when taking Glucotrol is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Watch out for symptoms such as shakiness, sweating, or a fast heart rate. 

  • How long does it take for Glucotrol to work?

    Glucotrol starts working quickly once you take it, particularly the immediate-release formulation. If you notice symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) after taking Glucotrol, notify your healthcare provider as they will probably lower your dose. These symptoms could include dizziness, shakiness, sweating, or a fast heart rate. They can occur as soon as 30 minutes after you take Glucotrol.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Glucotrol?

Getting diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can be overwhelming, but it is incredibly common. There are endless resources to help you understand and cope with the condition. Lifestyle changes, including improving your diet and increasing physical activity, will make a big difference. Some people may even be able to avoid getting put on medications by changing these two elements of their lives.

Learn more about your condition by communicating with diabetes educators and other people who have been living with diabetes. Taking your medications as prescribed while incorporating lifestyle changes, such as finding exercises that you can enjoy, can empower you to take control of your diabetes.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare professional. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration. Glucotrol (glipizide) package insert.

  2. Sola D, Rossi L, Schianca GP, et al. Sulfonylureas and their use in clinical practice. Arch Med Sci. 2015;11(4):840-848.

  3. Khan MAB, Hashim MJ, King JK, Govender RD, Mustafa H, Al Kaabi J. Epidemiology of Type 2 Diabetes - Global Burden of Disease and Forecasted Trends. J Epidemiol Glob Health. 2020;10(1):107-111. doi:10.2991/jegh.k.191028.001

  4. Food and Drug Administration. Glucotrol XL (glipizide extended release) package insert.

  5. National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus. Glipizide.

By Sara Hoffman, PharmD
Sara is a clinical pharmacist that believes everyone should understand their medications, and aims to achieve this through her writing.