Metformin is a prescription drug used to treat or prevent Type 2 Diabetes. The drug is available under different brand names like Riomet, Glucophage XR, Glucophage, Fortamet, and Glumetza. It belongs to a class of drugs known as biguanides. These drugs reduce glucose production in the liver (hepatic glucose production) by inhibiting the conversion of amino acids and fats to glucose. They also reduce the amount of sugar getting absorbed from the intestines, and they boost the body’s sensitivity to Insulin by activating AMPK enzymes.
You should know that Metformin does not cure diabetes. It only reduces blood sugar levels and improves the body’s sensitivity to Insulin.
Metformin can be prescribed alone or alongside other medications. It can be paired with sitagliptin (Jenumet), vildagliptin (Eucreas), or pioglitazone (competact). Sometimes Metformin is also combined with Insulin for individuals with type 1 diabetes.
Metformin is a legal drug used in most parts of the world. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of diabetes in the US, where it is prescribed to supplement diet and exercises. In other words, even though Metformin is quite effective, users still need to make drastic changes in their life for it to deliver the best results. For instance, you may have to lose some weight, stick to a healthy diet, and do regular exercises to make sure your blood sugar levels remain within a healthy range.
Metformin is also used to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Most countries haven’t approved its use for this purpose, though.
Type 2 Diabetes and How Metformin Helps
Type 2 Diabetes is a common type of diabetes diagnosed mostly in overweight and obese people. Individuals who are not physically active are also at an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. In this form of diabetes, the body fails to process and use Insulin properly (the hormone that controls blood sugar levels). This is why insulin resistance is also common in Type 2 diabetes. It results in dangerously high blood glucose levels.
Other than physical inactivity and overweight issues, the risk of getting Type 2 Diabetes is also increased by family history and abnormal hepatic glucose production.
Ingestion of Metformin increases your body’s response to Insulin. It also actively reduces blood glucose levels by decreasing hepatic glucose production as well as GI glucose absorption. Some people successfully use this drug in monotherapy, while in other cases, you may have to take it with other medications for the best outcome. A licensed physician will give you a clear prescription and guideline after assessing your condition.
Types of Metformin
There are two main types of Metformin:
- Metformin IR (Immediate Release) –Metformin IR is mostly sold under the name Glucophage. It is mostly taken three times per day.
- Metformin SR (Slow Release) – Metformin SR is sold under the brand name Glucophage SR. It is used once per day.
Metformin Side Effects
Metformin is known to produce several side effects that can range in severity from mild to serious. Some of the more common and mild side effects of Metformin are stomach pain, heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, constipation, weight loss, headaches, a metallic after-taste, and gas. Many of these side effects are common in the first few days of using the drug, and they usually disappear without intervention. You can prevent or reduce the severity of these adverse reactions by taking the drug with a meal. You can also chew sugar-free gum to get rid of the unpleasant metallic taste. If the side effects persist, stop using the drug and consult a physician right away.
Metformin can also produce severe side effects like lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis is a serious condition that may occur as a result of Metformin accumulation in your body. The side effect is very rare, but it’s still important to keep an eye out for this condition due to how severe it is. Lactic acidosis is characterized by weakness, tiredness, trouble breathing, unusual sleepiness, unusual muscle pain, stomach pains, dizziness, lightheadedness, slow and irregular heart rate, nausea, and vomiting. Lactic acidosis is a medical emergency, so you want to seek medical help immediately you notice these symptoms.
In extremely rare cases, Metformin reduces Vitamin B12 levels leading to Anemia. Make sure your diet is rich in B Vitamins to avoid this condition.
Does Metformin Cause Weight Gain (Hypoglycemia)?
Hypoglycemia is a very common side effect of most diabetes medications. Luckily, Metformin does not cause hypoglycemia if used alone and as directed.
To avoid gaining weight, exercise regularly, stick to a balanced diet, and avoid alcohol. You should also take the drugs on schedule.
Can I Take Metformin While Pregnant?
There haven’t been any complications or birth defects linked to the use of Metformin in pregnant women. Most studies actually show that it can be helpful both before and during pregnancy. Metformin can even increase your chances of conceiving if you have PCOS. It improves your ovulations dramatically.
Metformin also prevents diabetic complications and may reduce the risk of various complications, including birth defects.
However, Insulin is the first-line treatment for pregnant women with diabetes. In some cases, your doctor may also prescribe Metformin. This happens quite a lot in women who are at a high risk of getting gestational diabetes.
How to Use Metformin?
Metformin is available in oral tablets and solutions. The dosages range depending on your condition, age, and other factors.
Here are some of the dosages used:
Metformin Immediate Release for Type 2 Diabetes – Start with 500mg taken twice per day. You can also use 850mg once per day. The drug should be taken with a meal. The dosages are increased every two weeks but do not exceed 2550mg per day.
Metformin Extended-Release for Type 2 Diabetes – Start with 500mg once per day taken with dinner. You can increase the dosage from the second week. Do not take more than 200mg per day.
To Prevent Type 2 Diabetes – Start with 850mg taken every day with a meal.
Where to Buy Metmorfin
Do not take Metformin without speaking to your doctor first. Make sure to share your full medical history and point out any drugs you could be using – prescription, non-prescription, and herbal supplements – to avoid unpleasant drug interactions.
Remember, Metformin works well when supported by a well-balanced diet and regular exercises.