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    Information about Metformin

    Metformin uses

    Metformin is used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is used in addition to diet and exercise to improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes.

    How metformin works

    Metformin is an anti-diabetic medication (biguanide). It works by lowering glucose production in the liver, delaying sugar (glucose) absorption from 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. Lalit Mohan Gupta
    MD (Microbiology), MBBS
    Reviewed By
    Dr. Varun Gupta
    MD (Pharma), MBBS
    Last updated on:
    17 May 2019 | 05:27 PM (IST)
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    Expert advice for Metformin

    • Chances of weight gain and low blood sugar are lesser 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.
    • Vitamin B12 deficiency and symptoms of anemia like fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath or headache may occur. 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 taking this medication.

    Frequently asked questions for Metformin


    Q. Is Metformin helpful in patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?

    Yes. Metformin is used off-label in the treatment of PCOS. It may be used along with other medicines to induce ovulation and regularize menstrual cycles.

    Q. How does Metformin help in weight loss?

    Metformin helps in weight loss by decreasing the hunger (appetite), and hence, the food intake. It makes the insulin already available in your body to work more effectively. This leads to a decrease in glucose production, increase the glucose use and decrease the fat deposits which further helps to lower the body weight.

    Q. Is Metformin useful in the treatment of infertility?

    Metformin is prescribed to improve the insulin resistance in the body. Proper insulin resistance regulates ovulation, maintains proper androgen levels in the body, and improves menstrual regularity. This increases the pregnancy rates and outcomes and indirectly treats the infertility associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

    Q. Can I take Metformin forever?

    Metformin is generally a safe and well-tolerated drug even on long-term use. However, it should be used for the duration prescribed by your doctor.

    Q. Does Metformin cause bloating?

    Yes, the use of Metformin can cause bloating. To minimize this side effect, it is advised to take it after your meals.

    Q. Does Metformin clear acne?

    Metformin is not indicated specifically to clear acne. However, in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), it helps clear acne along with other problems like facial hair, abdominal obesity, and irregular menstruation.

    Q. Does Metformin cause weight gain?

    No, weight gain has not been reported with Metformin. Rather, it helps in decreasing weight especially in abdominal fat patients of type 2 diabetes mellitus. In women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), it helps in losing weight along with relieving other problems like facial hair, acne, and irregular menstruation.

    Q. Does Metformin cause blurry vision?

    Metformin is not known to cause blurred vision. Change in vision in a patient with diabetes could be due to multiple reasons. Please consult your doctor if blurred vision occurs.

    Q. Can the use of Metformin cause vitamin B12 deficiency?

    Yes, long-term use of Metformin can cause vitamin B12 deficiency. long-term use interferes with the absorption of vitamin B12 in the stomach. If untreated, it may cause anemia and nerve problems and the patient can have tingling sensation and numbness in hands and feet, weakness, urinary problems, change in mental status and difficulty in making balance (ataxia). To avoid these problems, doctors usually suggest an intake of vitamin B12 from outside at least once every year.

    Q. How beneficial is it to take Metformin with linagliptin?

    Both Metformin and linagliptin are anti-diabetic drugs and can be used together. Their fixed dose combinations are also available and commonly advised once Metformin is unable to control blood sugar levels even after giving the maximum tolerated dose. As they work by different mechanisms, they help in better control of blood sugar levels compared to either drug taken alone.

    Q. Does Metformin use leads to anemia?

    Metformin may decrease the levels of vitamin B12 on long term use which may rarely cause a type of anemia in which blood cells are larger than normal (megaloblastic anemia). You may need to take foods rich in vitamin B12 like eggs, dairy products, and meat or a supplement from outside.

    Q. Is Metformin useful in the treatment of prediabetes?

    Metformin is seen to be useful in the management of prediabetes, a condition with blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to label you as diabetic. Metformin makes the insulin already available in your body to work more effectively, decreases glucose production by liver and increases use of glucose by the muscles and lowers body weight. However, lifestyle modifications like a change in diet and exercise should be tried first as they are seen to be more effective than Metformin.

    Content on this page was last updated on 17 May, 2019, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)