Metformin Side Effects

Metformin is a prescription drug that lowers liver-produced glucose in the body.

metformin side effects

Hyperglycemia, or Type 2 diabetes, is a problem that makes blood sugar rise above normal. It makes the body resist, or is not producing insulin in maintaining glucose level. The pancreas produces insulin hormones, if it’s not making it then there is no balance of sugar in the body.

Another problem is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. This is a woman’s hormonal condition that causes an imbalance of hormones production. Male hormones are more causing irregular menstrual periods and infertility. ┬áThese are some of the health conditions addressed by Metformin. Let’s look at it in details and see metformin side effects.

What is Metformin?

Metformin is a prescription drug that lowers liver-produced glucose in the body. It comes in as medicine in liquid form or tablet. Metformin is classified as a biguanide and is used as front line medications. Biguanide drugs prevent glucose production in the liver, reduce sugar in the intestines, and improves insulin sensitivity.

Metformin tablets come in two forms:

1. Immediate Release Tablets

These tablets are created to release the active drug after oral administration. Glucophage is one hyperglycemia tablet that is an example of an immediate release tablet.

2. Extended Release Tablets

These tablets are made to dissolve a drug longer. It is slower and steadier to melt. Glumetza and Fortamet are examples of an extended-release tablet.

How does it work?

Metformin helps type 2 diabetics to normalize or lower the body’s sugar level. It improves glycemic control as it increases insulin sensitivity of the muscle cells allowing it to remove sugar from the blood. Also, it lowers sugar absorption from the intestine improving blood sugar levels and preventing sugar spikes from happening. Finally, it decreases the amount of glucose produced in the liver.

Another medical case for metformin is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Women who have high insulin levels may cause the ovaries to generate more androgen hormones, in this case, they make testosterone. This causes irregular periods and infertility to women. Also, an increase in body hair, acne, and weight gain may develop over time. Metformin can improve insulin sensitivity and help insulin levels to go down.

Things to Know Before Taking Metformin

Like in many medicines there may be complications if activities are still pursued while taking medications. It is important to know the do’s and don’ts to be guided and not complicate while under the process of treatment. Here are some things to know while taking metformin:

  • Avoid drinking alcohol: alcoholic drinks has no direct impact on the medicine. But it escalates the risk of getting low blood sugar and lactic acidosis.
  • Balance food intake and exercise: Following the doctor’s advice will be the best step, eating on a healthy diet and doing exercise. There is no food or drink that has an effect with metformin or needs to be avoided, but it should be taken with a meal or snack. Metformin’s use is to control blood sugar levels.
  • Breastfeeding: metformin has a big possibility of mixing with breast milk. It is best to consult for medical advice with regards to this matter for proper action.
  • Taking other medicines: it is important to mention medications, with or without prescription, to the doctor. This is to find out what combinations are safe and may prevent the risk of other complications like lactic acidosis.

Metformin Side Effects

The side effects caused by metformin are divided into two. There are the common side effects and the serious side effects. Both differ as some of the side effects are usually while taking the medication, while other side effects may be unusual needs to be checked. These things must be mentioned to the doctor so that proper procedure takes place. Here are both the common and serious side effects of metformin:

Common side effects

  • Weight loss: metformin can make people lose weight as it may reduce a person’s appetite thus avoid food. Also, it may change how the body stores fat and how it is being used.
  • Headache: this happens because the body is feeling the effect and transition of the new condition. After a few days, the headaches will settle.
  • Abdominal Pain, Diarrhea, and Nausea: These will likely to happen when starting the medication and will improve over time. Taking medicine during and after meals may ease the condition. It is best to follow the doctor’s instructions.
  • Physical Weakness: this is a lack of energy or loss of muscle strength due to the effect of metformin. Feeling very tired and sleepy may experience as part of the medication.

Serious side effects:

  • Anemia: this is a condition about red blood cells, in low levels, lacking vitamin B-12. Metformin decreases vitamin B-12 in the body. Vitamin B-12 is a nutrient that keeps the nerves and blood cells of the body healthy. Shortage of this vitamin will put a person in anemic stage making the person feel dizzy, catching a breath, tongue swelling, pale skin, and many more.
  • Hypoglycemia: this condition can be dangerous. Low blood sugar can put a person to seizure, faint, and go into a coma. Signals that you are in low blood starts with a blurry vision, headache, increased heartbeat, pale skin, and losing consciousness. Metformin alone can’t cause this but with poor diet, not good exercise, too much alcohol consumption and other diabetes medications contribute to having hypoglycemia.
  • Lactic Acidosis: a condition that involves the kidney and liver. As the lactic acid builds up the acidity spike causing an imbalance in the body’s acidity level. Metformin may cause lactic acidosis as it builds up in the body. Symptoms for this are irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing, unusual muscle pain, and vomiting.


Metformin is a drug medication used to treat type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It is always best to consult a doctor, or a medical professional, with regards to this matter. Following instructions is a must and telling all the unusual things that are happening will help prevents bad situations to occur. Understanding the side effects of taking medicine is important so as doing advance research about the prescription drug and its brands.

metformin side effects

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