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Answering Common Questions About Metformin

Last updated: April 2022

Metformin is one of the most commonly prescribed medications worldwide to manage blood sugars. Some people even consider it a "wonder drug." Metformin has been well studied as an effective diabetes medicine and is inexpensive. These traits make Metformin a popular choice for type 2 diabetes treatment plans.

We often tend to focus on the potential side effects. However, it is essential to know about the long-term benefits beyond managing glucose and diabetes. It is normal to have questions and concerns when starting a new medication or to manage your current regimen, as with all medicines. Below are many frequently asked questions and answers regarding the use of Metformin.

What is Metformin and how does it work?

According to the American Diabetes Association guidelines, Metformin is often the first-line therapy treatment for managing blood sugars. It belongs to a drug class called biguanides, which lowers blood sugar levels by decreasing the amount of glucose produced by the liver. Metformin is suitable for both adults and youth with type 2 diabetes.1

What are the common brand names of Metformin?

Metformin is available in tablet or liquid form, and in both immediate and extended-release. Common brand names of Metformin are:

  • Fortamet
  • Glucophage
  • Glumetza
  • Riomet

What are the benefits of taking Metformin?

Besides improving blood sugar levels, Metformin can lower the risk of hypoglycemia. Studies have shown that Metformin may lower dementia risk, reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, and lower the risk of cancer incidence and mortality (lung, prostate, and colon cancer).1-3

Can Metformin be used in people without diabetes?

Yes! The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) found that Metformin may delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Studies have supported Metformin's long-term safety for diabetes prevention. It is often used in people with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) to help with menstrual regulation, fertility, and controlling blood sugars.4

What are the instructions for taking Metformin?

It would be best to discuss when to take Metformin with your doctor. Taking Metformin with meals is recommended. Before taking tests or procedures in the hospital, you might discontinue taking Metformin temporarily.

Will Metformin cause me to gain weight?

No! Metformin is considered weight neutral. Research has shown that Metformin can help with weight loss.5

What are the side effects of taking Metformin?

Common side effects of Metformin are gastrointestinal intolerance and include symptoms such as bloating, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea. Long-term use of Metformin may be associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Although rare, more severe reactions such as lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid in the bloodstream) can also develop.

What should I do if I experience GI issues?

Always discuss your side effects with your healthcare team. These are a few suggestions to help reduce these unpleasant side effects of Metformin:

  • Take Metformin with food
  • Try the Metformin XR form (the extended-release tablets may have less side effects)
  • Discuss with your doctor if you can start with a lower dose and increase gradually

Hopefully, your Metformin common questions have been answered! Be sure to check with your doctor if you have specific questions about Metformin and other type 2 diabetes treatment options.

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