If you’ve recently been diagnosed by your doctor with type 2 diabetes, there is a chance that your doctor may prescribe Metformin to you. This is a common medication used in the treatment and control of high blood sugar.
Before taking it, learn more about Metformin side effects and what this medication can do for you.
What Metformin Is and What It Does for You
Metformin is a medication that is meant to be used with certain lifestyle changes in order to lower high blood sugar. It is not a cure for low blood sugar. It is not intended to lower high blood sugar or A1C all on its own.
For Metformin to work for your type 2 diabetes, you need to make changes that will also help lower your levels. That means starting on a diet plan that will lower your A1C and starting an exercise routine that will help lower your levels and lower your weight.
By increasing the amount your levels drop working alongside these healthy lifestyle changes, Metformin will lower your risk of the following:
Adding Metformin as part of your diabetes maintenance routine will also help your body respond better to insulin. This can help your digestive system as well, allowing your stomach and intestines to absorb nutrients better and decreasing the amount of sugar produced by your liver.
How to Use Metformin
Before taking any kind of medication, it is important to know what you are taking. Ask your doctor about new prescriptions. Schedule a consultation with the pharmacist when you pick up prescriptions that are new to you.
Your prescription will come with paperwork – read it. This paperwork will tell you about side effects, what medications might negatively affect the workings of this medication, whether or not you should eat with your medicine, and when you should take it.
With most medications, you want to take them at the same time each day. You also, however, need to know if you are to take them more than once a day. Should you be taking a whole pill, or do you need to have a pill cutter on hand?
Generally, Metformin is taken anywhere from 1 to 3 times a day. It is taken with liquids. Your specific dosage of this medication will depend on the severity of your illness.
Your doctor may also start you at a lower dosage to help avoid possible side effects. Your doctor can then increase your dose depending on how well the medication is working to lower your A1C.
When you’re on a medication such as Metformin, you need to make sure that you are checking your blood glucose levels regularly and keeping track of them. These results will help your doctor know whether or not the medication is working for you and will allow them to adjust your prescription as needed.
Metformin Side Effects and Interactions
Much like with any prescription medication, there is a myriad of possible side effects from taking Metformin. First, it’s important to understand the symptoms of high blood sugar, which would be why you need this medication. Also, while Metformin side effects don’t normally include low blood sugar, you should know those symptoms as well.
There are also possible interactions that you should be aware of. These interactions can cause side effects of their own. Also, older people are at an increased risk of side effects.
Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is noticed through the following symptoms:
People have also noticed a fruity odor on the breath of people with high blood sugar. If you notice these symptoms, and especially if you’re on Metformin, contact your doctor immediately. Your prescription may need adjustment.
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is noticed by the following tell-tale signs:
Many of these are the same as high blood sugar signs. Low blood sugar usually happens when you are on multiple diabetes medications (prescription and/or over-the-counter).
The medication itself, Metformin, could cause some other side effects throughout your system. These side effects may be very mild, or they could be extreme. You may have one side effect or even a bunch of them.
1. Digestive Issues
There are numerous stomach issues that can arise from taking Metformin.
These symptoms could be a sign of lactic acidosis if they begin on your first days of treatment. Lactic acidosis happens when there is a buildup of lactate in your body. This causes an extremely low pH in the bloodstream.
If you’re suffering from a case diarrhea or vomiting as a result of this medication, it could lead to dehydration.
Dehydration is a severe issue if you don’t do something about it. Not only does dehydration increase your risk of lactic acidosis, but severe dehydration can also put you in the hospital and can cause death.
Always make sure that you are drinking plenty of water each day. Eat foods that are also rich in water content (like celery and watermelon).
3. Visual and Mental Side Effects
You may have visual disturbances, such as blurred vision. Dizziness and drowsiness are both common side effects of low and high blood sugar. If your prescription isn’t working effectively, you could experience some of these side effects.
While you’re getting used to this medication, you shouldn’t drive a car or operate heavy machinery on the job. If you experience dizziness or blurred vision, stop what you are doing until your vision clears. Then make an appointment with your doctor.
4. Allergic Reaction
While it is rare, you could have an allergic reaction to Metformin. Signs of an allergic reaction to this medication include:
If you happen to experience these symptoms, even if it’s just a mild reaction in the beginning, contact your doctor immediately or go right to the emergency room. Let your doctor know about known allergies each visit.
5. Interactions Due to Medical History
If you have a medical history that revolves around blood or breathing problems, you could have problems with Metformin. This includes:
There are some other health issues that could be exacerbated by this medication. They include liver disease and kidney disease.
6. Interactions with Surgery and Other Medical Procedures
From reactions to the iodine drink you take for certain procedures to risks when going under anesthesia (or even using a topical anesthesia), some medications can have interactions with the steps needed for certain medical procedures.
It is important to ensure all of your doctors, surgeons, and even your dentist knows all of the medications that you are on each time you go in for an appointment.
7. Interactions with Birth Control
When on Metformin, you may want to use more than one type of birth control in order to prevent pregnancy. This drug can change your menstrual cycle and cause ovulation – which increases your risk of pregnancy.
While it doesn’t directly affect birth control pills, the percentage of a chance of pregnancy while only using one form of birth control may be increased due to increased fertility.
8. Interactions with Alcohol
When you are on Metformin, alcohol can increase your risk of having low blood sugar, as well as developing lactic acidosis. You don’t have to completely cut all alcohol out of your life, but you should drink it in extreme moderation. Pay attention to any side effects that may be a sign of low blood sugar or lactic acidosis.
Other Things to Know about Metformin Side Effects
When you are feeling under stress, whether it’s due to illness or surgery, it can make it difficult for you to keep your blood sugar under control. Increased stress may result in the need for a change in your treatment plan. Take some quality time to talk to your doctor to find out if you need additional testing or changes to your prescription.
Another time in which you may need to make changes to your diabetes medicine is during pregnancy. There could be risks to your unborn child, so it is important to discuss medications with your doctor. They can give you a low dose, or have you use insulin instead of Metformin during your pregnancy.
Even after you’ve had your child, Metformin can cause an issue. Small amounts of this medication can pass through breast milk.
Final Thoughts on Metformin Side Effects
All prescription and over-the-counter medications come with a risk of side effects. By knowing the Metformin side effects and the risks, you can ensure that you stay healthy while taking this medication.