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What is Metformin?

Metformin (also known as Glucophage) contains the active ingredient metformin hydrochloride and is a prescription medication used for the management of type 2 diabetes. Metformin lowers the blood sugar level by improving the way the body handles insulin.

It is thought to be the most commonly prescribed medication to combat type 2 diabetes in the world, and has been safely and effectively treating type 2 diabetes for over 60 years. Metformin comes in the form of a 500mg or 850mg dosage pill, and can be used by men and women with type 2 diabetes or non-insulin dependant diabetes (NIDDM).

What are the benefits of Metformin

There are multiple benefits when using metformin hydrochloride which have been shown in scientific experiments, among these are:

  • Reduced insulin levels: Multiple studies confirm that Metformin can reduce the amount of insulin supplemented into an individual's system
  • Lower LDL cholesterol: It is believed that Metformin has the ability to slightly reduce LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and increase HDL ("good" cholesterol)
  • Combination anti-diabetic: Metformin can be used on its own or in combination with other anti-diabetic medication as it can help minimize the weight gain frequently associated with these particular medications.

How does Metformin work?

All Metformin tablets contain the active ingredient metformin hydrochloride. It is known as a biguanide medication (an antidiabetic medicine) and it works to treat type 2 diabetes by helping the body to control high sugar levels in the blood. It does this by slowing down the absorption of sugar (glucose) by the intestines, during a meal as well as immediately after a meal.

Metformin also controls the level of glucose that is produced by the liver. This ensures that the cells can remove sugar from the blood in a far more effective manner. In addition to this, metformin hydrochloride helps your body to respond more effectively to the insulin it does produce. It does this by increasing the sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin. Metformin is an effective type 2 diabetes treatment and as such is not suitable nor prescribed as a treatment for type 1 diabetes.

Stomach Pancreas Stomach converts food to glucose Pancreas produces sufficient insulin but it is resistant to effective use Glucose enters bloodstream Glucose is unable to enter the body effectively Glucose levels in the bloodstream increase

How to take Metformin

Metformin hydrochloride should be taken two or three times per day depending on the patient and you will be advised by your doctor on what dosage and frequency . These are currently the only Metformin dosages available to buy here at HealthExpress.

  • The tablets should be taken exactly as it has been prescribed to you and according to the instructions on the prescription label.
  • You should not exceed the amount prescribed by your doctor for a daily dosage.
  • You should take each tablet with food, preferably during or shortly after a meal in order to prevent potential side effects. The tablet has to be swallowed whole with a glass of water, never crushed or chewed.
  • You will need to visit your doctor regularly in order to have your blood sugar and your kidney function tested, so you should be prepared for this.
  • Metformin tablets shouldn't be used as a substitute for an exercise and diet regime.

To get the most out of this mediation, it should be used alongside an effective exercise and diet plan, in order to effectively control the symptoms of type 2 diabetes in the long run.

If you do forget to take a dose of the medication, it can be taken with your next meal, unless you were due to take a dose at that time anyway. If this is the case, leave out the missed dose. Never take a double dose to make up for a dose that has been forgotten.

What are the dosages available for Metformin?

Metformin is usually prescribed as a 500mg or 850mg dose (available to buy in 84 or 168 pill packages) and this will be advised by your doctor upon prescription whether that is online or in person.

What are the side effects of Metformin?

As with all prescription medications, there are some mild side effects that may occur. With regards to Metformin, side effects are likely to only be very mild, if they even occur at all. Potential side effects for this treatment include;

  • Nausea, diarrhoea, bloating, heartburn, stomach discomfort, loss of appetite, or fatigue

Extremely rare side effects can include behavioural changes, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, and restless sleep. Although these are very uncommon, if any of these side effects do occur and persist, you should talk to a doctor or your local GP as soon as possible to discuss your condition.

What are the precautions/interactions for Metformin?

Metformin (500mg or 850mg) is clinically approved to be safe as well as effective, but there are still certain groups of people who should exercise particular caution before taking this medication.

If you are allergic to metformin or experiencing diabetic ketoacidosis then you will not be prescribed this medication.

You should tell you doctor or disclose during your online consultation if you have heart or liver disease.

If at any point while taking this diabetes treatment you need to have a CT scan or X-ray taken that requires a dye to be injected into your bloodstream then you will need to stop taking metformin temporarily, so that your kidneys are not affected. You should remain aware of the possibility of lactic acidosis, which can occur as a side effect of taking metformin. This is a potentially fatal side effect and will require emergency medical care if it occurs.

  • It is vital that you inform your doctor, if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in Metformin, or if you have any other allergies.
  • Alcohol consumption should be avoided, whilst using this treatment. This is because it can significantly increase the risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), as well as lactic acidosis.
  • It is important to stick to a diet and exercise regime, at the same time as using this treatment. The reason behind this is that Metformin is only used to control blood sugar levels, and is therefore not a substitute for eating healthily and exercising.
  • Your doctor may want to check your kidney function when taking Metformin tablets, normally once or twice a year. These checks will likely occur more frequently for elderly patients.
  • The shells of the pills may occasionally pass through your gut and appear visible in your faeces. This is completely normal.
  • Metformin mustn't be used with beta-blocker medications (e.g. propranolol, metoprolol, and glaucoma eye drops).

The manufacturer of Metformin recommends that this treatment should not be used during pregnancy, or whilst breastfeeding. Metformin should not be used by people dealing with; dehydration, decreased kidney function / kidney failure, heart failure, recent heart attacks, severe infections, blood poisoning, alcoholism, or a decreased liver function. Individuals under the age of 18 should not use this treatment.

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