What Is Metformin, How It Works, and What Are the Side Effects?

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There are several key ways to keep your blood sugar levels within the target range, including maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, adhering to self-monitoring plans, and appropriately using medications. 

Among diabetes medications, oral medications can be categorized into 6 major types based on their different mechanisms. Today, we’ll introduce you to Biguanied, commonly known as Metformin. Let’s now explore how it works and what its side effects are!

Oral Anti-diabetic Drug: Metformin

Metformin is sold under several brand names, including Uformin, Glucophage, Loditon, and Glibudon. It’s one of the first-line medications for the treatment of diabetes. In addition to reducing the production of glucose and decreasing glucose absorption in the small intestine, metformin also increases insulin sensitivity of cells and enhances the efficiency of insulin utilization. In simpler terms, it reduces the amount of glucose the liver releases into the body and help the body’s insulin work better to lower blood sugar levels.

What Are the Side Effects of Metformin?

Common Side Effects

Metformin primarily affects the gastrointestinal tract, so diarrhea, indigestion, and excess air in the stomach are some common side effects. As your body gradually gets used to metformin, these symptoms will usually improve over time. If you’re experiencing severe side effects, you can consult with your healthcare providers to inquire about taking metformin with meals or after meals to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.

Rare Side Effects

There’s an extremely low probability of developing lactic acidosis after taking metformin. Lactic acidosis occurs when the body produces more lactate than it can metabolize, leading to a buildup of lactate in the bloodstream. Common symptoms of lactic acidosis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Muscle soreness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort.

More severe symptoms may include:

  • Delirium and confusion
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slower heartbeat
  • Unconsciousness

If you’re experiencing any discomfort after taking metformin, it’s recommended to consult your healthcare providers as soon as possible for them to evaluate and adjust your medication to avoid severe side effects.

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