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Metformin Side Effects

A Comprehensive List of the Various Side Effects of Metformin

Metformin side effects are mild and negligible, provided the drug is administered in doses recommended by a medical expert. Some of the reported side effects of metformin are gastrointestinal problems, lactic acidosis, weight loss, and hair loss. Here's a detailed look at the same.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Metformin (trade name: Glucophage) is an oral therapeutic drug, promoted for controlling blood sugar levels within the normal recommended range. Formulated from the plant Galega officinalis (common name: French lilac), the popularity of metformin for treating diabetes dates back to the 1950s. By then, it was found to be the only drug that did not have any adverse effects on the blood pressure of diabetic patients, which was not the case with other anti-diabetic medicines. Today, it is commercially sold under different brand names.
Metformin is usually prescribed with other insulin-related medicines for treating hyperglycemia. It is to be borne in mind that metformin is only for those patients, who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes (not for type 1 diabetes). The major benefit of administering metformin is that it does not cause hypoglycemia symptoms when taken alone. However, metformin side effects may be manifested in patients who have taken this drug in a higher dosage, or in conjunction with other medication.
Side Effects of Metformin
Health experts are of the opinion that metformin helps in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, thus reducing the complications of cardiovascular problems among diabetic patients. However, the long-term side effects may be present in patients who have an underlying kidney disease, liver disease, or heart disease. Other than these, the side effects of metformin are rare if it is advocated under the supervision of a qualified physician. Here is a list of the adverse health effects that metformin can have.
Digestive Problems
Gastrointestinal discomfort and other indigestion-related problems are the most commonly reported adverse effects of metformin. Mild diarrhea is observed in approximately 53% people, who have taken metformin for diabetes treatment, while about 25% patients complain of nausea and vomiting.

Lactic Acidosis
Taking metformin in a concentration that exceeds 5,000 mg can lead to overdose symptoms in adults. A sign of metformin toxicity is lactic acidosis, which is caused by the accumulation of lactic acid in the bloodstream. A patient with this condition is treated therapeutically with sodium bicarbonate injections.

Effects of Overdose
Toxicity of metformin causes abdominal pain, drowsiness, vomiting, and elevated blood glucose levels (or hyperglycemia). In this condition, immediate medical attention is necessary to remove metformin from the bloodstream. Fatal cases following metformin toxicity are rare, but do occur.

Weight Loss
Some patients taking metformin for diabetes report loss of weight. Some studies say that metformin does not have any significant weight-gaining effect. However, there isn't a conclusive evidence stating whether metformin actually affects one's weight or not.

Hair Loss
A less commonly occurring side effect of metformin is thinning of hair, or hair loss. If one is experiencing any similar sign while on metformin, it is best to consult a physician about the concern. If metformin is found to be the primary cause for losing hair, the physician may recommend an alternative medicine for treating diabetes.

Taste Disturbance
People taking metformin have also reported experiencing a change in taste. Many people experience a metallic taste in their mouth while on metformin. It is not a severe problem; drinking plenty of fluids can solve this. However, if it is getting very bad, see a doctor.

Nose/Throat Infection
Relatively frequent nose or throat infection has been reported by some metformin users. It is a very rare side effect that people experience. Some people also experience sinus problems after an intake of metformin. In this case, see a doctor, he may suggest lowering the dose.

Nose/Throat Infection
Relatively frequent nose or throat infection has been reported by some metformin users. It is a very rare side effect that people experience. Some people also experience sinus problems after an intake of metformin. In this case, see a doctor, he may suggest lowering the dose.

As already mentioned, metformin side effects are negligible, when medication is taken correctly. After rigorous clinical studies, FDA has approved of the use of metformin in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Today, it is listed among the most widely prescribed anti-diabetic drugs. In addition, the effectiveness of metformin is also studied for treating other medical problems, in which resistance to insulin is the root cause. Though it is not clinically proven, researchers have suggested that metformin can be of help in treating gestational diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.