Doctors often prescribe metformin for patients who have type 2 diabetes or other conditions associated with insulin resistance. Metformin lowers blood sugar by reducing the amount of glucose the liver makes and by increasing insulin sensitivity. It’s one of the safest and most affordable diabetes medications available for people who have type 2 diabetes. Doctors also use it to treat other conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome and fatty liver disease since these conditions are linked with insulin resistance.
Metformin is available in two different forms, metformin immediate-release and extended-release metformin (Glucophage XR.) Some people experience fewer side effects such as digestive upset when they take the extended-release form of metformin since the medication is released at a slower rate, which helps to reduce unpleasant side effects such as nausea and diarrhea.
Metformin is available in a 500 milligram or a 850 milligram tablet. The starting dose is one 500 milligram tablet in the morning and one in the evening with food. With the 850 milligram tablet, the initial dose is one a day taken with the largest meal. After starting the medication, blood sugar levels are closely monitored to see if dosing is adequate. If blood sugar levels remain too high, the dose can be increased by one tablet every two weeks up to a maximum dosage of 2500 milligrams a day.
Precautions When Taking Metformin
If your doctor prescribes the extended-release form of metformin, swallow the pill whole without crushing or breaking it. Crushing the tablet can cause the medication to be released too fast. If you are ill or have a fever, you may need to stop taking metformin until you’re feeling better. Ask your doctor about this. It’s also important to stop metformin 48 hours before a procedure that requires contrast dye. It shouldn’t be restarted until 48 hours after the procedure.
What happens if you take too much metformin? If you overdose on metformin, you may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain. The most serious risk of taking too much is the risk of lactic acidosis. This is a condition where too much lactate builds up in the bloodstream, which can be fatal. Signs and symptoms include weakness, dizziness, fainting, rapid breathing, sweating or an abnormal heartbeat.
If you take too much metformin, call your doctor immediately or seek medical attention. It’s important to check medication blood levels, and start treatment if necessary. Overdosing on metformin is more likely to be serious in the elderly and in people with other health problems.
Metformin Dosage: The Bottom Line?
Metformin is a safe medication for people who have normal liver, lung and kidney function, but it’s important to take it as prescribed and to see your doctor regularly for blood sugar checks to be sure you’re taking the right dose. Talk to your doctor about this.