What is metformin?

Metformin is an FDA-approved antidiabetic agent that manages high blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients. It reduces glucose absorption from the intestines, lowers liver glucose production, and improves insulin sensitivity. Metformin is recommended with dietary changes and exercise for better results.

Managing blood sugar levels with medications like metformin can prevent complications such as kidney damage, nerve issues, blindness, amputations, and sexual dysfunction. Effective diabetes control can also lower the risk of heart attacks or strokes.

Warnings

You should not use metformin if you have severe kidney disease, metabolic acidosis, or diabetic ketoacidosis (call your doctor for treatment).

If you need to have any type of x-ray or CT scan using a dye that is injected into your veins, you may need to temporarily stop taking metformin.

Though extremely rare, you may develop lactic acidosis, a dangerous build-up of lactic acid in your blood. Call your doctor or get emergency medical help if you have unusual muscle pain, trouble breathing, stomach pain, dizziness, feeling cold, or feeling very weak or tired.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use metformin if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

severe kidney disease; or

metabolic acidosis or diabetic ketoacidosis (call your doctor for treatment).

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to metformin: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Some people using this medicine develop lactic acidosis, which can be fatal. Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms such as:

unusual muscle pain;

feeling cold;

trouble breathing;

feeling dizzy, light-headed, tired, or very weak;

stomach pain, vomiting; or

slow or irregular heart rate.

Common metformin side effects may include:

low blood sugar;

nausea, upset stomach; or

diarrhea.

Many drugs can interact with metformin, making it less effective or increasing your risk of lactic acidosis. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

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