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    Information about Metformin

    Metformin uses

    Metformin is used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

    How metformin works

    Metformin is an anti-diabetic medication (biguanide). It works by lowering glucose production in the liver, delaying the absorption of sugar (glucose) from the intestines and increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin.

    Common side effects of metformin

    Nausea, Vomiting, Taste change, Diarrhea, Abdominal pain, Loss of appetite
    Content Details
    Written By
    Dr. Anuj Saini
    Reviewed By
    Dr. Varun Gupta
    MD (Pharmacology), MBBS
    Last updated on:
    15 Jan 2020 | 02:43 PM (IST)
    Want to know more?
    Read Our Editorial Policy

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    Expert advice for Metformin

    • You have been prescribed Metformin to control the blood sugar level and reduce the risk of diabetic complications such as heart attacks.
    • Chances of weight gain and low blood sugar are lesser with this medicine as compared to other diabetes medicines.
    • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level) may occur when taken along with other antidiabetic medicines, alcohol or on delaying/skipping a meal. Carry a sugar source with you for immediate relief.
    • Tell your doctor immediately if you experience any deep or rapid breathing, persistent nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain as Metformin may cause a rare but serious condition called lactic acidosis, which is an excess of lactic acid in the blood.
    • Prolonged use of Metformin may lead to vitamin B12 deficiency which may lead to anemia, causing fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath or headache. Notify your doctor if you experience any of these as you may require supplements.
    • Your doctor will monitor your blood sugar levels and kidney functions regularly while you are taking this medication.

    Frequently asked questions for Metformin


    Q. What does Metformin do exactly?

    People with type 2 diabetes are not able to make enough insulin or respond normally to the insulin made by their bodies. When this happens, the concentration of sugar/glucose increases in the blood. Metformin acts in several ways to reduce the increased levels of sugar in blood. Metformin decreases glucose production from the liver and decreases absorption of glucose from the intestine after taking food while improving the sensitivity of the body organs and muscles towards insulin. This helps improve the uptake of glucose from the blood. It also helps your body to respond better to the insulin it makes naturally.

    Q. Does Metformin cause weight loss?

    Yes, Metformin has been shown to cause weight loss in people who are overweight or obese. It may also cause a modest loss in weight in those overweight and obese individuals who are at risk for diabetes. In addition, patients who are sensitive or resistant to insulin may also show weight loss. But, do not start taking this medicine for weight loss on your own. Consult your doctor for the same.

    Q. What are the benefits of taking Metformin?

    Metformin is one of the first medicines that is given to patients with high blood sugar levels. It helps control blood sugar levels. It promotes the body’s response to the insulin made by the pancreas, decreases the amount of sugar made by the liver and decreases the amount of sugar absorbed by the intestines. Unlike other oral antidiabetic medicines, Metformin when taken alone, rarely causes low blood sugar as it prevents the pancreas from secreting more insulin. In addition to being a great medicine to lower blood sugar levels, it also helps in controlling weight gain.

    Q. Can Metformin make you sleepy?

    Metformin usually does not cause sleepiness and is well tolerated. However, the use of Metformin may rarely cause sleep disorders and insomnia. Sleepiness may be due to a very serious side effect called lactic acidosis, which particularly occurs if your kidneys are not working properly. Contact your doctor if you feel sleepy or tired while taking Metformin.

    Q. How to take Metformin?

    Take Metformin with or after a meal. Do not crush or chew the tablets and swallow it with a glass of water. If your doctor has prescribed one tablet a day, prefer taking it in the morning with breakfast. If you have been prescribed two tablets a day, then take one in the morning and other in the evening with dinner. In case of three doses a day, apart from morning and evening, you can take it with lunch. Taking Metformin with meals will reduce its digestive problems like indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache and loss of appetite.

    Content on this page was last updated on 15 January, 2020, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)