Metformin is one of the safer, effective and inexpensive drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes. It is an oral medication that helps to control blood glucose. It comes in multiple forms such as a pill, extended release tablet, and liquid. Usually you’re advised to take it with a meal.
Of course metformin doesn’t work on its own, you have to commit to a lifestyle change. A healthier diet and more exercise will help the user lose weight and lower blood sugar levels. These changes could possibly hold off diabetes in prediabetics for up to 15 years.
Metformin reduces appetite, affects how the body stores fat, and lowers resistance to insulin making your body use your own insulin more efficiently. It can also reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by 30-40%.
Usage of metformin can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency that could lead to anemia, neuropathy, memory loss, and fatigue.
If you need a CT, MRI, or angiogram that requires the contrast dye you may need to temporarily stop taking your metformin. The contrast dye can cause minor, short term changes to kidney function.
Metformin should not be used if you have severe kidney disease, metabolic acidosis, or diabetic ketoacidosis. Also metformin shouldn’t be used with alcohol.
During pregnancy, the body can’t create enough insulin to control the blood glucose levels which leads to gestational diabetes. Women with gestational diabetes require insulin injections to help control the blood glucose levels. In women with Type 2 diabetes, that gap grows exponentially with pregnancy. The body is in need of more insulin than can be provided with injections. Studies are being performed to see the long term effects of metformin during pregnancy to see if metformin can be used in tandem with injections during pregnancy to safely keep blood glucose levels in check and see if there are any affects on the baby.
When taking metformin, you’ll see greater results if you also change to have a healthier diet and more active lifestyle. You could potentially hold off full blown diabetes with this medication if you have prediabetes. Watch your health while taking this medication, look out for any side effects and let your doctor know about them as they happen.
Diabetes Self-Management, May/June 2019, p. 30-31.
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