Diabetes, specifically Type 2 is a lifestyle disease, which is generally preventable, by maintaining a healthy diet. But when you have a love, hate relationship with food, things can go out of hand and you are faced with plaguing health issues.
One of the most common medications, which doctors prescribe to their diabetes patients, is called Metformin. It has been used for a great many years and has both good and negative side effects.
As do all pharmaceutical drugs!
Today, we will explore the drug and try to understand how does Metformin work. If you or your family member has diabetes, continue reading to learn more about how this medication can help mitigate the effects of diabetes.
What is Metformin?
Glucophage is another name used to refer to the prescription drug, Metformin. It is also known as Glucophage XR, Riomet, Fortamet, and Glumetza, under some other brands.
In most cases, it is prescribed to type 2 diabetes patients and is ingested orally.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Metformin is used to treat high blood sugar levels that are caused by a type of diabetes mellitus or sugar diabetes called Type 2 Diabetes. With this type of diabetes, insulin produced by the pancreas is not able to get sugar into the cells of the body where it can work properly.”
Sometimes, patients require additional help when it comes to their diabetes treatment. So, this medication can be combined with other drugs.
“Using Metformin alone, with a type of oral antidiabetic medicine called a sulfonylurea, or with insulin, will help to lower blood sugar when it is too high and help restore the way you use food to make energy.”
These combo drugs are referred to as:
- Repaglinide (Prandimet)
- Sitagliptin (Janumet)
- Pioglitazone (Actoplus Met)
- Rosiglitazone (Avandamet)
- Glipizide (Metaglip)
- Glyburide (Glucovance)
How is the Drug Taken?
Doctors normally recommend that the pill-form of Metformin be taken along with meals. Depending on the severity of your condition, you are required to have it at breakfast and dinner.
If there is a greater resistance or elevation of your blood sugar levels, then you will be required to take it with your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That way, it can be more effective and counter the sugar effects of these three major meals of your day.
What Are the Benefits Of Taking Metformin?
So to understand how does Metformin work, we have to examine its benefits. While there are quite a few drug choices for this condition, they all tend to operate differently. But their main goal is to reduce the blood sugar levels in diabetics.
How Metformin operates though, is to suppress the appetite and reduce the level of sugars created by the liver.
This is how the liver works in all of us. It discharges diminutive quantities of glucose right through the day.
The chief consequence of using the drug then is that this liver discharge of glucose is reduced. As such, the blood sugar levels are also reduced directly.
The drug also operates to lessen blood sugar in two derived ways. It does so by first rising your insulin sensitivity and diminishing the glucose quantity, which is take in from the foods you consume.
People with diabetes are inclined to notice that their cholesterol levels also diminish. And on the flip side, their sensitivity to insulin increase. As mentioned, the drug works wonders in suppressing appetite. So, a direct result of that will be weight loss. People eat less. Thus, they consume fewer calories. And so, their health gets better overall.
What Are the Side Effects of Metformin?
Another aspect of knowing how does Metformin work is to examine its side effects. As with all medications, you have to be vigilant and take precautions.
Regardless of this drug being so good and available worldwide, it is always best to read the directions given on the label.
1. Discomfort in Your Abdomen
Undoubtedly, nearly all of the regular side effects of using Metformin surround getting an upset stomach. This happens because it typically suppresses your appetite and you might experience loose stools.
Some people usually do not have too much of a problem with that because of the weight-loss benefits.
If it is overly bothersome, then your doctor must be consulted.
Nonetheless, to deal with this stomach distress, a number of patients say that things are better if the medication is started gradually. This means they take a lower dosage, and then they increase the dosage as time goes by.
In this way, they are able to have little to no aversive side effects in the gastric region. Another strategy used by some other patients is that they take the pill during their meal and not at the end or start of it either.
In this way, they are better off than others who do not.
Before deciding to do this yourself, it is always advised that you consult your doctor.
2. Preexisting Conditions in Your Kidney and Liver
If you have problems with your liver or kidneys, you should not be taking Metformin. In addition, if you are an alcoholic, the drug is also not for you.
Disregarding these guidelines could lead to serious health issues.
Patients with “lactic acidosis,” which is a serious condition, can occur from taking Metformin when you have a damaged kidney and liver.
3. Other Noted Side Effects
There are a number of other side effects, which can occur when you take Metformin. These include:
- Heart Throbbing or Pounding
- Temporary Redness of Face and Neck
- Excessive Sweating
- Metallic Taste in Your Mouth
- Flu-Like Symptoms
- Dizzy Spells
- Muscle Pain
- Toenail Disease
- Incomplete or Infrequent Bowel Movements
- Stomach Upset
- Severe Inflammation of the Nose
- Trouble Breathing
So even though Metformin has these side effects, as do other drugs, it is regarded to have the best safety profile. Hence, that's why it is prescribed frequently around the world.
Can Metformin Cause You to Develop Hypoglycemia?
This drug is not at fault for contributing to low blood sugar levels as insulin injections do. For the reason that, it is not affecting your body in the way of insulin production - unlike a number of other diabetes drugs.
As an alternative, it is aiding your body to discharge a smaller amount of glucose from the liver.
So, if you are now dealing with hypoglycemia because you started taking this medication, it might be because your system no longer needs help to monitor your blood sugar levels correctly.
This is especially in cases where you have shed the weight, been eating right and exercising regularly.
For a medical assessment, and before ending any medication, please talk with your medical physician, as soon as possible.
The Greatest Effect Comes Through Diet and Exercise
Some people that it is a myth, that someone can fully recover from diabetes and not be dependent on medication all their lives.
Well, it is true. Not only can you control the disease with diet and exercise, but it can also be something that will never plague you again. Still, the key to achieving this result is through diet and exercise.
It is good that in understanding how does Metformin work, we get to see that it is truly a remarkable drug. But, no one wants to be taking medication all their life, if they can help it.
Try to plan and stick to planned diet and exercise.
Nonetheless, if you are battling the disease now, then incorporate medication, diet, and exercise. It is the most dependable Trifecta, for great results!
In addition, the more you lose tummy fat and gain muscle mass all over your body, the better you will get in a short period of time. That is, compared to if you depended on the drug alone.
So, consume more fruits, vegetables, and sugar-free foods. Eat more proteins. Eliminate those sugary drinks and give your liver and pancreas a chance to work at their optimum levels.
Always remember to check your blood sugar levels, especially if there is a change in your Metformin medication, if you forgot to take the correct dosage, and even if you have gone of your normal regimen for diet and exercise.
Be vigilant with your health!