Metformin is so helpful – what you need to know about this drug
Have you recently been prescribed Metformin? Do you know about Metformin and how it can help you? When I started Metformin I had many questions. Here’s what I learned.
Metformin is the most prescribed medication for Type 2 diabetes. It is also known as Glucophage, Glumetza, Riomet, and Fortamet. Metformin is often prescribed in combination with other drugs to help treat Type 2 diabetes. Your doctor will help you choose the right combination for you.
Starting Metformin can reduce high blood sugar. High blood sugar damages your heart, kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels. Reducing your blood sugar can prevent further damage. High blood sugar also leads to high blood pressure. Medication alone will not stop the damage. It will not cure your diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is reversible. People who follow a ketogenic diet are often able to reverse their Type 2 diabetes1https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31336509/. A ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats, this allows your body to burn fat instead of relying on glucose.
Cutting out sugars and carbohydrates is a good start to better health. There are many things you can do to improve your health and reach Type 2 diabetes remission. Making positive diet and lifestyle changes can lead to reversing Type 2 diabetes.
Taking Metformin and improving your diet can lead to success. Exercise is important as well. Going for a 15-minute walk after a meal can lower your blood sugar. When you walk your body uses the excess glucose in your blood. This can help prevent a spike in blood sugar.
Metformin will not immediately reduce your blood sugar levels. It takes 4 to 5 days for the most significant effects to happen. You may notice some improvement in blood sugar levels after 48 hours. It’s a safe and effective medication.
However, if you are a man who is planning to start a family, you might also want to read about Metformin and the risk of birth defects, here.
How does it work?
Metformin encourages your liver to produce less glucose. It also reduces your insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is bad. Insulin resistance causes high blood sugar levels. When our cells become resistant to insulin they do not allow glucose to enter the cell. This means that excess glucose stays in the blood causing high blood sugar levels.
Do you have a Continous Glucose Monitor (CGM)? If you do not, then ask your doctor about a prescription for one. This is how you’ll learn which foods are skyrocketing your blood sugar and how you’ll know for certain what’s going on. This is how we fact-check what we feel in our bodies.
People who take insulin and Metformin need to be on top of their blood sugar. Their blood sugar can go too low which is called hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar needs to be corrected. Some orange juice or a glucose pill can help you to recover from hypoglycemia.
There is an increased risk of low blood sugar when taking Metformin. This is worse for people who take insulin. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol while on Metformin can cause hypoglycemia.
Feeling low after starting?
You might feel weird when starting Metformin. Low energy, sluggishness, shakiness, and feeling run down are common. This is because your body thinks your blood sugar is going too low. It’s become accustomed to high blood sugar. Your body thinks that is normal for you. Now that it’s changing, your body is unsure.
You may feel hypoglycemic. This can cause strong cravings for sugar. This will pass in time. It took me a couple of weeks to adjust. Your continuous glucose monitor will tell you if your blood sugar is actually low or not. Don’t cave into the cravings. The medication is working. It takes time to feel better.
Tip: Start taking a good CoQ10 supplement. Metformin can deplete Coq10. Taking CoQ10 is healthy for your cognitive function and your skin. It also promotes heart health.
Metformin can cause side effects in some people. For most these are mild.
You may experience:
To minimize these side effects, start at a lower dose and build up over time. Taking a high dose, once a day can cause these side effects. Splitting the dose and taking it twice per day is helpful. Starting slow may extend the time it takes to get the full benefit of the medication.
Starting a diet low in carbohydrates will also lessen the side effects.
There are some less common side effects worth mentioning.
Lactic acidosis is a condition caused by a build-up of lactic acid in the blood. Kidney problems may cause this. They do this by allowing too much metformin to build up in the blood. Heart failure and liver problems can also cause lactic acidosis. These conditions and taking Metformin increases the risk.
How should you take it?
Take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. When I started I was told to take it once per day with a meal. I took mine with breakfast. My next doctor told me to take it with my dinner to improve my sleep. She was right. I slept much better when taking it with dinner.
Your doctor may prescribe extended-release Metformin. This is best taken at night.
Tip: Go buy a high-quality vitamin B12. Start taking it every day. Metformin can block absorbtion of B12. Low B12 can cause anemia. Anemia feels terrible.
Click here to read about Starting Insulin Injections
Metformin is available almost anywhere you travel
It treats Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Metformin decreases your chances of getting Alzheimer’s
You may lose weight
It can decrease appetite
Most common drug interactions
- Iodine contrast
- Some anticancer drugs
- Certain antimicrobial drugs
- Alcohol (excessive amounts)
- Some HIV medications
Talk to your doctor about getting a continuous glucose monitor. The more information you have the better you can manage your blood sugar. They may also be able to help answer any questions you may have or things you want to know about Metformin.
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