Metformin Side Effects
In this article we will see what are the metformin side effects, metformin overdose, metformin uses, lactic acidosis, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, metformin precautions and other medical emergency conditions. In Addition we will also see what should you do if you see the symptoms of Metformin overdose. There could be side effects of Metformin as it directly causes the changes in your blood sugar level. So it is recommended that you never take this medicine without supervision of a doctor so that you could get emergency help in case of metformin side effects. In addition to this you must be aware of symptoms of high and low blood sugar and the way how to manage in such situations. If the symptoms are sever or appearing frequently, contact your doctor immediately.
What is Metformin?
Metformin pronounced as (met for’ min) is the American Diabetes Association (ADA) prescribed oral medicine to control blood sugar level in type 2 diabetes patients. Metformin is used to improve blood sugar level and to reduce insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes patients. However Metformin is not an option for controlling blood sugar level in type 1 diabetes patients but can only be used for type 2 diabetes patients. Though there could be other possible uses of Metformin but this article will describe it’s uses in context of controlling the blood sugar in type 2 diabetes patients.
Metformin Side Effects Symptoms
Metformin side effects can be common less severe symptoms or fatal more severe based on condition and severity. To clarify we can classify the symptoms of Metformin in two categories:
Common Metformin Side Effects Symptoms
- Nausea or vomiting
- Upset stomach – If upset stomach symptoms return frequently after taking the same metformin dose for several days or weeks, then this could be the sign of a fatal metformin side effect Lactic Acidosis. So see your doctor promptly if you feel such symptoms.
- Diarrhea (less severe)
- Metallic taste in mouth
- Acute infection of nose, throat or sinus
- Gas (less severe)
- Headache (less severe)
- Inadequate Vitamin B12 (less severe)
- Stomach cramps (less severe)
- Swelling of the abdomen (less severe)
- Taste problems (less severe)
- Feeling of throwing up (less severe)
If any of these common symptoms persists for longer or get severe you need to see your doctor immediately.
Severe And Fatal Metformin Side Effects Symptoms
- Stomach pain
May be a sign of fatal Lactic Acidosis
- Gas (severe)
- Diarrhea (severe)
- Bloating or Swelling
- Chest pain is serious side effect and may need to call emergency medical help.
- Allergic Reaction and Rashes Caused with the allergic metformin reaction and produces itchy skin eruptions characterized by the weals with pale interiors and well-defined red margins. This is also a serious metformin side effect. Hence remember to see your doctor immediately if you see these allergic rashes, difficulties in breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat.
- Headache (severe)
- Nail changes
- Muscle pain
- Lactic Acidosis – This is a fatal side effect and need emergency medical help. Metformin is not recommend for Diabetes patients who have kidney diseases, liver disease, got dehydration, has a severe infection. In addition it is also not recommend if someone had congestive heart failure or if consumed alcohol in larger quantity. Symptoms of Lactic Acidosis may start at a low level and become sever soon. So call emergency help if you see any of the symptoms below:
Numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs
Having trouble while breathing
Feeling very week, tired and having a whirling sensation
Stomach pain, nausea with vomiting
Uncontrolled or slow heart rate. Stop taking this medication and tell your doctor right away if this very serious side effect occurs.
14. Hypoglycemia – Metformin Side Effects
Metformin overdose may lead your sugar level to become too low. As a result, you can feel symptoms of Hypoglycemia such as difficulties in breathing, taking long breath commonly with a sound, sweating, confusion, headache, hunger, sweating, irritability, dizziness or feeling shaky. You can generally manage Hypoglycemia by taking something sugary such as glucose, fruit juice, candy, crackers or raisins etc. But if the sugar level goes too low the symptoms would become sever and patient start losing consciousness, this is an emergency situation and an immediate injection of Glucagon is required. So it is likely that if you are on Metformin you always need to keep your injection kit along with Glucagon injection with you. Also teach your family members, friends or whoever is near you how to manage such situation.
15. Hyperglycemia – Metformin Side Effects
Meanwhile In the patients who are managing their blood sugar with Metformin, if not taken on scheduled time, missed the dose, or there are frequent longer gaps in between, it may lead to the increased blood sugar level. This increased blood sugar level in diabetes patients is called Hyperglycemia. To clarify, symptoms of Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) include increased thirst, increased urination, drowsiness, confusion, rapid breathing and fruity breath odor. So see your doctor right away if you see these symptoms and your doctor may need to adjust your Metformin Dosage.
Apart from these side effects, metformin may cause other side effects too. If you see anything unusual happening with you while taking the metformin, see your doctor immediately.
In the US – You may report metformin side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at FDA Med watch
In Canada – You may report metformin side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Missed Metformin Dose
If you forgot or missed the Metformin dose, take as soon as you remember it. However, if the time for next dose is just coming around, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. But Never take the double dose to make up for a missed one, it may lead to Hypoglycemia or lactic acidosis.
If it seems that the patient has taken metformin overdose and you see such symptoms of hypoglycemia or lactic acidosis, then contact the poison control center or medical emergency right away.
In US – You may call the US local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
Canada – Call a provincial poison control center or medical emergency room.
In India – 112 / 102
To sum up overdosing Metformin can be serious as it can cause lactic acidosis, a life threatening situation.