If you are unable to keep your diabetes under control with your daily habits, then your doctor will likely advocate taking medication to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.
Metformin is a prevalent drug given to those with type 2 diabetes, whereas insulin is regularly the only remedy for type 1 diabetes.
Choosing between the different metformin alternatives available can be hard.
Is it necessary to move away from metformin and choose a different medication for diabetes?
What We Know About Metformin
Metformin is a biguanide, a type of drug that prevents the liver from creating glucose. It is also known by various brand names such as Glucophage, Fortamet, Glumetza, and Riomet.
What Is Metformin?
Metformin is a popular drug prescribed to individuals who have type 2 diabetes. The medication Metformin is most regularly prescribed, and it is also commercially sold under the name Glucophage.
Metformin has an advantage that other diabetes medications lack: it does not bring about low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). This characteristic of metformin makes it a preferred choice when prescribing medications to those with type 2 Diabetes. Metformin can be taken alongside other drugs, such as sulfonylureas and insulin shots, without worrying about having a hypoglycemic reaction. Therefore, this is an ideal combination for those with type 2 diabetes.
Metformin is in a drug class called biguanides. Biguanides work to lessen the amount of glucose created by the liver while boosting responsiveness to insulin, thereby leading to a decrease in elevated blood sugar levels. There are two forms of metformin – the standard form and the extended-release type (XR).
The typical amount of metformin to take each day is between 500 and 2,550 milligrams. It is advised to break down the dose and spread it out over the course of the day, usually three times per meal.
Metformin is primarily utilized to treat type 2 diabetes, yet it is also utilized to address polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome typically have a hormonal imbalance that is brought on by their body’s resistance to insulin.
How Does Metformin Work?
The remedy does not raise insulin concentration in the body but instead reduces the quantity of glucose the body generates and takes in. Metformin not only reduces glucose production in the liver but also reduces blood sugar by boosting the body’s reactivity to insulin. This also decreases the amount of sugar our bodies take in from the food we consume.
What Is Metformin Used For?
Metformin is frequently employed to assist those with type 2 diabetes in controlling their blood sugar levels. Metformin is useful for many when combined with a nutritious diet and physical activity. Adam Brown’s book Bright Spots & Landmines: The Diabetes Guide I Wish Someone Had Handed Me is especially beneficial when it comes to determining what is beneficial to eat and what to avoid. It’s not exactly an immediate solution that offers immediate results, but rather a necessary piece of a holistic health plan that assists with controlling the situation.
Is Metformin Safe?
Metformin is thought to be an unstinting, bargain-priced, and proficient medication around the world and is reachable in many countries.
3 Benefits of Metformin for Diabetes
1. No hypoglycemia.
Metformin works by lessening the amount of glucose generated in your liver and improving your body’s response to insulin.
Metformin differs from other diabetes medications in that it does not lead to low blood sugar. It is okay to use it alongside other medications, such as insulin injections since it will not cause hypoglycemia.
2. Oral form instead of an injection.
People who have diabetes tend to be hesitant to take the medication in the form of an injection. Metformin only comes in tablet form, so it does not need to be injected.
3. Financial considerations.
Metformin is considerably less costly than some of the more modern kinds of medications for diabetes that are in existence currently. Choosing the generic brand will be even more cost-effective.
Other Possible Metformin Benefits
Most individuals afflicted with type 2 diabetes have a positive experience when taking metformin and are very grateful that an inexpensive generic version is accessible. The American Diabetes Association considers the medication to be so successful that it is included in its diabetes Standards of Care as a primary treatment.
However, Metformin could potentially offer other uses and advantages beyond the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Scientists are currently evaluating if the drug can be useful in combating cancer, neurodegenerative illnesses, visual issues such as macular degeneration, and even the aging process. It will take some time before any other applications apart from decreasing the level of sugar in the blood can be proven to be useful.
Metformin is simultaneously employed to deal with gestational diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome.
The American Diabetes Association has recommended that doctors should offer metformin to treat prediabetes, particularly to those younger than 60, even though the Food and Drug Administration has not yet sanctioned its use for this condition.
Side Effects and Risks of Metformin
The most common metformin side effects are gastrointestinal-related.
If you start taking metformin, you may experience some of these side effects:
- Stomach pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weight loss
- Metallic taste in your mouth
Metformin could potentially limit the body’s capacity to take in Vitamin B12 from the gut. Roughly between 6 and 30 percent of those using metformin have a lack of vitamin B12. Studies suggest that the more metformin a person takes, the higher their likelihood of having a lack of vitamin B12.
It is essential that Vitamin B12 is taken in order to produce DNA and red blood cells. A deficiency in Vitamin B12 may result in anemia, a condition in which the individual has a lower number of red blood cells than is ideal. Anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency is pernicious anemia.
It comes with symptoms such as:
- Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness
- Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- A smooth tongue
- Constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or gas
- Nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and problems walking
- Vision loss
- Mental symptoms like depression, memory loss, or behavioral changes
Injections of vitamin B12 are usually used to address a lack of the vitamin B12 in the body. Oral medications are typically not employed in the care of pernicious anemia because the difficulty lies in the stomach’s incapability to take in vitamin B12.
Most people taking metformin experience minor side effects. Nevertheless, there is a minor possibility of experiencing more serious adverse reactions while taking metformin. Lactic acidosis is a severe state in which the body produces an excessive amount of lactic acid that surpasses what the body is able to clear.
The symptoms of lactic acidosis usually set in quickly and include:
- Abdominal or stomach discomfort
- Decreased appetite
- Fast, shallow breathing
- Muscle pain or cramping
- Unusual sleepiness, tiredness, or weakness
Taking too much Metformin is the leading cause of lactic acidosis.
What Are Less Common Side Effects of Metformin?
The drug can have some more severe reactions, although these situations are not common. The most severe effect is lactic acidosis, a state brought on by an excess of lactic acid in the blood. Lactic acidosis may happen if there is a buildup of metformin in the bloodstream, typically because of persistent or sudden (like when someone is dehydrated) kidney issues. A disproportion in lactate levels can also arise from severe cardiac failure or severe liver issues.
Metformin may lead to hypoglycemia, especially in persons who are on insulin or medications that stimulate the secretion of insulin (like sulfonylureas), as well as if they consume large quantities of alcohol. I am not yet taking insulin, but I began using continuous glucose monitoring to more precisely track my blood sugar readings. Testing with a sugar level monitor periodically is beneficial for avoiding low blood sugar occurrences.
Extended use of metformin can hinder the body from taking in vitamin B12, possibly leading to anemia, so it may be necessary to get additional vitamin B12 through food sources.
For many individuals consuming metformin, the effects are relatively mild and last for a relatively brief amount of time.
The “Faux Low”
Many individuals who are starting to take metformin may experience another common side effect. It’s something called a “faux low.”
A “faux low” occurs when blood sugars decline to the typical range after remaining abnormally elevated (over 180 mg/dl), either by taking medication like metformin, following a low-carb lifestyle, or both! Your bodyresponds to this alteration as if it is experiencing genuine hypoglycemia (a glucose level of less than 70 mg/dl).
Despite variations in blood-sugar thresholds and symptoms between different individuals with diabetes, the feelings of irritability, fatigue, shakiness, and dizziness typically indicate that a person’s blood sugar has dipped below 70 mg/dl. When I had phony episodes of low blood sugar, I felt sick, slightly faint, nauseous, and ferociously hungry.
If you exhibit any symptoms which indicate you may be having a hypoglycemic event, but your glucose meter readings confirm that you are in fact not low (e.g. 96 mg/dl), continue to take your metformin as prescribed. Avoid consuming foods that contain a high amount of carbohydrates such as orange juice in order to bring your sugar levels back up.
Should I be experiencing a false decline in energy rather than a real one, I noticed that indulging in water and having a salty snack without carbohydrates (macadamia nuts are fantastic for this since they are rich in fat) puts an end to the indicators, letting me to keep doing my daily routine.
Be aware that individuals with type 2 diabetes taking metformin and insulin or sulfonylureas are especially prone to developing hypoglycemia. If you feel down, test your blood sugar levels – if they are low, you may need to take glucose tablets, drink orange juice, or a similar dietary supplement to counteract hypoglycemia.
Reasons People May Stop Taking Metformin
It is possible to discontinue the usage of metformin if the side effects interfere with your regular activities or if they cause emotional distress. It is impossible to tell in advance who will have minimal to no negative reactions to Metformin and who will experience serious results.
If your blood sugar is not being properly managed on metformin, and it stops working for you, your doctor may advise you to consider other treatments in addition to or instead of metformin.
You might think about discontinuing metformin if your blood sugar levels are at the desired level. Some individuals are able to regulate their sugar level without medication and do not have to take metformin anymore. Those who go through weight loss surgery and shed a large amount of weight can sometimes discontinue medicines like metformin.
GFR is a measure of how well the kidneys are able to filter blood. Metformin can be used safely when the estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate is at least 45 milliliters per minute. It is possible that you will have to discontinue the use of metformin if your kidney capability deteriorates or if you have a serious kidney condition.
Can Metformin Cause Weight Loss?
The FDA has not given its stamp of approval for metformin to be used as a weight loss aid. A lot of individuals who suffer from type 2 diabetes have shed pounds after being treated with the medication, although scientists are still undecided regarding the manner metformin impacts weight. There are those who assert that it reduces hunger pangs, and others who argue that it changes the manner in which the body retains and utilizes fat.
Scientist are also researching the possibilities of metformin having the ability to shield people with type 2 diabetes from heart disease, with some older evidence lending credence to this claim. The investigation surrounding metformin’s effects on heart health has not gone through trials that could prove its effectiveness. Yet, this topic is currently receiving more attention.
What Is the Best Time to Take Metformin?
Metformin usually needs to be taken twice or thrice a day. It’s important to eat metformin with food to prevent stomach and intestinal issues, which are common. Most people use it during breakfast and dinner.
Metformin in its extended-release form should be taken only once every 24 hours and at night, along with the evening meal. This can help to treat high glucose levels overnight.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Diabetes Medication
There are a variety of considerations that need to be taken into account when selecting the right diabetes medication. Your doctor can assist you in making a decision based on your medical history, illnesses, how long you have had diabetes, your blood sugar levels, how you live your life, whether or not money is an issue, and any other important variables.
The medicine that is most utilized for treating type 2 diabetes is Metformin. Patients can take metformin alongside several other medicines for diabetes, such as insulin.
If metformin is not suitable for you or it is not helping you reach your desired blood sugar level, there are other options available.
All medications have the possibility of leading to unwanted effects, advantages, and disadvantages. It is advisable to collaborate with a reliable health care provider in deciding what medications are most appropriate for your health condition, background, and lifestyle.