For the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, most of the time, the first course of treatment is to try and control it with diet and exercise. However, if your blood sugar levels are still high despite these lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend starting you on Metformin.
Here is what you should know.
What Is Metformin?
Metformin is prescribed to patients with Type 2 diabetes, mainly to those patients who are insulin resistant and overweight.
Metformin is an oral medication that is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. It was approved in 1994, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Metformin is under the class of diabetes drugs known as biguanide and is sold under the brand names Fortamet, Glucophage, Glucophage XR, Glumetza and Riomet. Glucophage is dispensed as an immediate-release tablet, while Fortamet, Glucophage XR and Glumetza are released as extended-release tablets and Riomet is dispensed as an oral solution.
Metformin is prescribed in doses of 500 milligrams, 850 milligrams and 1,000 milligrams, with 500 milligrams being the most common dosage.
Metformin may be used in conjunction with diet and exercise or it may be used with other diabetes medications, like Competact or Janumet.
What Else is Metformin Used For?
Besides Type 2 diabetes, Metformin is also to treat other conditions as well, including Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), obesity, Insulin Resistance Syndrome and female infertility.
How Does Metformin Work?
Metformin works in three ways. First, it stops glucose from forming in your liver. Second, it reduces the amount of glucose that your intestines absorb. Third, it improves your body’s insulin sensitivity.
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What is Metformin FDA Black Box Warning?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has placed a Black Box Warning Label on Metformin. What this means is that the drug has side effects that may potentially be dangerous. The side effect in this case is lactic acidosis, which is rare but very serious. With lactic acidosis, lactic acid, which is made when the level of oxygen is low and carbohydrates break down, build up in your blood.
What Are the Side Effects of Metformin?
Most medications have some sort of side effects associated with them. Also, medications affect everyone differently. So, you may experience nausea when you initially start Metformin, but your neighbor, who takes the same medication, same dosage, may not. Let your doctor know if you experience any of the side effects listed below. This is not a complete side effects list. For more information on the side effects, check out the first link in the References section below.
Common Side Effects:
- Abdominal pain
- Gastrointestinal disturbance
- Loss of appetite
- Metallic taste
Less Common Side Effects:
- Abnormal stools
- Joint pain
- Restless sleep
- Swollen joints
What Are the Potential Benefits of Metformin?
In addition to maintaining normal blood sugar levels, Metformin has a handful of other potential benefits as well.
- May help prevent cancers, such as pancreatic cancer. In 2009, Dr. Aung Naing, a leading researcher at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas conducted a study with 255 diabetics taking part. The study concluded that the risk for getting pancreatic cancer was 62% lower in those who took Metformin compared to those who did not.
- May help prevent those with pre-diabetes from developing Type 2 diabetes. A study, known as the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), published in the February 7, 2002 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that patients taking Metformin, may decrease their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 31%.
- May help prevent glaucoma. A study was published in 2015 JAMA Ophthalmology, conducted by the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. The study concluded that patients who were taking more than 1,110 grams of Metformin, over a period of two years, reduced their risk of developing glaucoma by 25%, compared to those who did not take the medication.
What Are People Saying About Metformin?
While all the medical information about Metformin is important for you to know, reading reviews from patients that are currently using the medication is just as important. These reviews give you firsthand experience that you need to know. Here are user reviews from three of the top reputable medical sites.
User Reviews from Drugs.com:
Overall, on Drugs.com, Metformin users gave the drug a score of 6.5 out of 10-
Sar1060- posted on March 20, 2017: "Been taking 1000mg a day for about a week. No side effects and my blood glucose levels are around 150 now. I'm Full sooner and hoping for some weight loss. Took Trulicity prior and was sick an entire week from one shot!"
User Reviews and Ratings from Webmd.com:
Overall, on Webmd.com, Metformin users gave the drug a score of 3.28 out of 5 for effectiveness, 3.92 out of 5 for ease of use and 2.91 out of 5 for satisfaction-
Jpass52- posted on April 13, 2017: “½ of a 500mg works, but 500mg whole tablet causes increase to Blood glucose (Bg). ½ tab for 4 days Bg dropped from 340 to 285, then took a whole tablet for 2 days and Bg was 485. Once I returned to ½ tablet, Bg dropped to 285.”
Reviews, Ratings & Comments by Patients from druglib.com:
Overall, on druglib.com, Metformin users gave the drug an overall score of 8.05 out of 10, 8.20 out of 10 for effectiveness score and 8.20 out of 10 for side effect score-
A 52-year-old patient, gave Metformin an overall score of 8 out of 10 and rated it highly effective with mild side effects: “The benefit was a lowering of blood sugar and metformin does that very well without leading to hypoglycemia which can happen with some of the other anti-hyperglycemic drugs.”
For the most part, Metformin is a great medication for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. It is safe to use, has minimal side effects and provides proven results in controlling blood sugar levels. In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends Metformin for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.
TheDiabetesCouncil Article | Reviewed by Dr. Sergii Vasyliuk MD on August 21, 2018