Sep 102011

A List of Metformin Side Effects and Warning Signs

Metformin is the only prescription drug which is classified as a Biguanide. It is used in managing Type II diabetes when the body’s high blood sugar levels are not properly controlled through exercise and diet, and in some cases, some patients use Metformin along with other anti-diabetic drugs like glyburide and insulin. Metformin helps in reducing the amount of sugar or glucose that is produced by the liver so as for the body to have normal levels. The drug also helps to increase sensitivity to insulin, making the body to use it in an effective way which is especially helpful in cases of insulin resistance.

Metformin has produced good results in diabetic patients as it helps in reducing the blood insulin levels from the reduction in the absorption of carbohydrates through the intestines. It reduces the rate at which the liver produces glucose and increases the sensitivity of the muscle cells to insulin. All is not about good news. There are different Metformin side effects that people have experienced from time to time, and they vary from individual to another because of different body factors.

Some of the most common Metformin side effects are:

  • Abnormal stools
  • Changes in taste
  • Muscle pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Nail problems
  • Flu-like symptoms such as muscle pain, fever, chills, and weakness
  • Feelings of a rapidly or forcefully beating heart (heart palpitations).
  • Flushing (a skin reddening, commonly on the face)
  • Increased sweating
  • Increased thirst

Other side effects may include are:

1. Signs of allergic reaction, including unexplained skin itching, rash, wheezing, or difficulty in breathing, hives, or unexplained swelling.

2. Metformin can cause electrolyte disturbances which make the body to function in an acidic environment. This is regarded as Lactic Acidosis, which can be sudden and severe. Lactic acidosis takes place when there is increased level of lactic acid in the body of the diabetes patient when the drug is used in inhibiting the process of hepatic gluconeogenesis (the process that produces glucose). It also reduces the intake of lactate by the liver. The problem can easily be experienced when an individual who is having kidney problems or impaired renal functions takes the drug. The drug and lactate will then build up to cause lactic acidosis, but the incidence is just 10 in every 100,000 people, a significantly lower number, which may cause people to be worried.

3.Metformin may also cause the reduction in the absorption of Vitamin B12. Around 7 out of 100 patients are likely to experience a reduced level of Vitamin B12, but the good thing is that the doctor can easily monitor the levels to know whether or not Vitamin B12 injections would be necessary.

4. Metformin can also cause impaired kidney and liver functions. This always happens when the patient takes an overdose of the drug, causing the weakness of the liver for excess dealing with the drug. The same thing will also happen to the kidney. In extreme cases, it is possible for the kidney and liver to stop working completely, leading to a lot of complications in the patient.

5. The drug is also capable of affecting the level of certain hormones in the body. For instance, and overdose may lead to a reduction in the blood levels of thyroid-stimulating hormones, especially if the individual has a history of suffering from hypothyroidism. It can also cause a reduction of the blood level in testosterone and luteinizing hormones found in men.


Side effects in Women

Metformin is also used to treat (PCOS) or Polycystic ovary syndrome. The use of Metformin should be discontinued immediately when pregnancy is confirmed whether the use is in clomiphene resistant women or as first-line treatment. There is no evidence of human fetal teratogenicity with the drug’s use. For instance, in women, Metformin has been used to treat non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus mellitus (NIDDM), with no increase in the occurrence of major congenital anomalies.

In the case of infertile women suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), the drug should be used after the doctor has carried out a careful analysis and synthesis of the information obtained from a detailed physical examination, history and the results of series of investigations undergone by the couple. The history should, among other things, pay attention to type of infertility (primary or secondary), the duration of infertility, menstrual history (dyspareunia, dysmenorrhoea, discharge), medical and surgical history, sexual history (coital frequency), social history and drug history (smoking, alcohol, occupation).

One of the most common Metformin side effects is the weight loss. It has been discovered that the drug can lead to a loss of appetite in the patient, thus making the weight loss goal a reality for the patient and the people already interested in losing weight. A major goal of diabetic patients is a weight loss, since the major symptom of Type II diabetes is excess weight.

The weight loss aspect of Metformin does not mean that the drug should be taken by everyone who wants to lose few pounds. The US Food and Drug Administration approved the drug to be used by diabetic patients, and not just by anybody who is interested in losing weight. The drug will also not be effective if the patient eats foods that cause an increase in blood glucose level. The reason for this is that the rapid increase forces the body in creating insulin before the drug can have any effect.

Regardless of the side effects of Metformin, it’s still a widely used, effective and a leading antidiabetic drug. If you are concerned about these side effects or they became more severe over time make sure to discuss it with your Doctor. Also, remember not to lower or increase your Metformin dosage as a result without consulting your doctor first.

 September 10, 2011  No Responses »