Metformin Patient Tips
How it works
Metformin improves how our body responds to insulin and decreases absorption of glucose from our intestine. It is used in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.
- Metformin is the preferred therapy for people with Type 2 diabetes. May be used in combination with other medications for Type 2 diabetes.
- May be used in polycystic overay syndrome (off-label); decreases androgen hormone levels, improves menstrual cycles, ovulation and insulin sensitivity.
If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:
- Diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, indigestion, headache, lack of energy, taste disturbance.
- Rarely, can cause lactic acidosis, a condition that can be fatal. Risk is higher in older people or those with other medical conditions.
- May impair vitamin B12 absorption but rarely results in anemia.
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake.
Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.
- Take with a meal to reduce the risk of stomach upset. Once daily doses should be taken with the evening meal.
- Low dosages are usually used initially before being titrated up. Dosages may vary between individuals.
- Splitting dosages throughout the day (rather than taking as a single dose) may improve gastric side effects such as nausea, diarrhea and indigestion.
- Swallow slow-release tablets whole; do not crush, break, or chew. Monitoring of blood sugars and other regular laboratory tests are needed.
- May need to be temporarily discontinued before undergoing investigations requiring contrast media.
- The outer case of some slow release metformin tablets may be visible in the stools; this does not mean the drug has not been absorbed.
- Ensure you are educated about the importance of diet and exercise in the management of type 2 diabetes.
Response and Effectiveness
Peak effects seen within 2-3 hours for immediate release forms, or 4 to 8 hours with slow release forms. May take up to 2 weeks of regular dosing for maximum effects to be seen.
Metformin [package insert]. Revised 01/2016 Ingenus Pharmaceuticals, LLC https://www.drugs.com/pro/metformin.html Accessed 03/2016
More about metformin
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Images
- Drug Interactions
- Support Group
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- En Español
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- Drug class: non-sulfonylureas
Related treatment guides
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use metformin only for the indication prescribed.
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