Metformin is a drug used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a certain group of drugs known as biguanides that work by helping the body to respond to the insulin it makes. Other benefits of biguanides include decreasing the quantity of sugar the liver makes as well as reducing the amount of sugar the intestines absorb.
This medication is provided in tablet, liquid forms, and extended-release tablets. The medication is taken not more than three times each day, depending on the form the patient is taking it in. We shall be discussing what metformin is, its usage and side effects.
General Information about Metformin
Metformin is a prescription drug that is available under different brand names such as Fortamet, Glumetza, Glucophage and Glucophage XR. Glucophage happens to be an immediate-release tablet while the others are extended-release tablets. Metformin extended-release tablets and immediate-release tablets are also availed as generic drugs. It’s important to know that although generic drugs cost less, they’re not often available in every form and strength as the brand ones. This medication also comes in an oral solution, with an only brand name Riomet.
This prescription drug was discovered in 1922 and was introduced as a medicine in France in 1957. By 1995, Metformin was being used in the United States. The drug is listed as an essential medicine in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) List. This means that it is one of the safest and most effective medicines one can rely on for a healthy body system.
How Is It Taken?
Metformin should be taken exactly as the doctor prescribed. A doctor can change the dose occasionally just to ensure that the best results are realized. Ones shouldn’t use this drug in smaller or larger amounts or for a longer time than what’s recommended.
Metformin should be taken with a meal, although the doctor can tell you otherwise depending on your situation. Do not chew, break or crash an extended-release tablet; it should be swallowed whole.
Potential Side Effects of Metformin
There are several side effects of metformin. Oral metformin tablets will not cause drowsiness but can result in a low –blood sugar reaction. Treatment is needed in case one gets a low-blood sugar reaction.
Ensure that you have tested your blood sugar levels 15-20 minutes after treating the low sugar reaction. If the blood sugar remains low, you can repeat the treatment you used. Immediately the sugar levels are in the normal range, you can take a small snack in case the next planned meal is an hour later.
Patients that fail to treat the low-blood sugar can pass out, have a seizure or develop brain damage. These particular side effects of lowering the blood sugar can be fatal. When you cannot swallow, or you pass out because of the low sugar reaction, someone needs to give you a glucagon injection.
More Common Side Effects of Metformin
Metformin often causes other side effects that need to be noted. They include stomach problems such as nausea, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain.
If these effects happen to be mild, they could go away in some days or several weeks. In case they are severe, consider talking to your pharmacist or doctor to get a suitable remedy to the problem
Serious Side Effects of Metformin
If you happen to experience the following serious side effects of Metformin, be sure to call the doctor immediately. In case you think that you are going through a medical emergency or the symptoms are likely life threatening, call 911.
The symptoms include breathing problems, weakness, tiredness, unusual muscle pains, general sleepiness, irregular or slow heart rate, lightheaded or dizziness, nausea vomiting and stomach pains.
Low blood sugar
Symptoms of serious low-blood sugar problems include weakness, headache, drowsiness, confusion, irritability, hunger, sweating, fast heart rate, dizziness and shaking or feeling jittery.
Main Uses of Metformin and Recommended Dosage
Metformin is usually used with an exercise program, proper diet and with other medications for the control of high-blood sugar. This helps to prevent blindness, kidney damage, loss of limbs, nerve problems as well as sexual function problems. Efficient diabetes control also lessens the risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Metformin works to restore the body’s response to the insulin a patient produces naturally. It also decreases the sugar amounts the liver makes and intestines/stomach absorb.
Here is the dosage information for a metformin oral tablet. Remember that all possible forms and dosages might not be included. However, the dose, form and how depends on:
- The condition at hand.
- How severe the condition is.
- Other medical conditions a person may have.
- How one reacts to the first dose.
Metformin Dosing Information
Diabetes Type 2 Usual Adult Dose
For immediate release drugs the dose will be as follows:
- Initial dose – 850mg each day orally or 500 mg twice a day orally.
- Maintenance dose – 2000mg each day.
- Maximum dose – 2550 mg every day.
For extended-release medication the dosage is:
- Initial dose – 500 to 1000 mg once a day orally.
- Maintenance dose: each day 2000 mg.
- Maximum dose: each day 2500 mg.
In case glycemic control isn’t achieved with one administration of the extended-release drug each day, one should consider dividing doses. If a high dose is required, switching to an immediate-release product can be a great option.
Diabetes Type 2 Pediatric Dose
For children who are ten years or older, the following dosage will be ideal.
- Initial dose: taking 500 mg orally two times a day.
- Maintenance dose: taking 2000 mg every day.
- Maximum dose: taking 2000 mg every day.
The effectiveness and side effects of metformin extended-release drugs haven’t been established in pediatric patients who aren’t yet 18.
The Bottom Line
Your doctor will prescribe the medication because he or she knows that the benefits it will offer are greater than the side effects of metformin. Make sure that you inform your doctor of any metformin allergies. You should notify the doctor about your medical history particularly if you have blood problems, severe breathing problems, liver disease or kidney disease.
Never share your medication with others, even if you have a similar condition. Only a doctor can decide who, when and how Metformin is taken. Also, patients are advised to attend any diabetes education program to learn more about how diabetes is managed with diet, medications, regular medical exams and exercise.