Metformin Side Effects

Metformin Side Effects

Here Are Some Metformin Side Effects

Metformin is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It works by reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver and improving insulin sensitivity. However, like any other medication, metformin has its side effects. Here, we’ll discuss some of the most common metformin side effects and what you should do if you experience them.

Common Metformin Side Effects

  1. Gastrointestinal issues: One of the most common metformin side effects is digestive problems such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. This happens because metformin can increase the motility of the intestinal tract. These symptoms usually subside as your body becomes accustomed to the medication. However, if they persist, you should consult your doctor.
  2. Lactic acidosis: This is a rare but potentially dangerous side effect of metformin. Lactic acidosis occurs when lactic acid builds up in the bloodstream faster than it can be removed. It can cause your muscles to ache, weakness, lethargy, and even difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
  3. Hypoglycemia: Metformin is not known to cause hypoglycemia on its own. However, if you take it in combination with other diabetes medications that can lower blood sugar levels, you may experience hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a condition characterized by low blood sugar levels, which can cause symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, sweating, and even loss of consciousness.
  4. Vitamin B12 deficiency: Long-term use of metformin can lead to a Vitamin B12 deficiency. This deficiency can lead to fatigue, weakness, memory loss, and numbness. If you’re taking metformin long-term, your doctor may advise you to have your B12 levels checked regularly.
  5. Kidney problems: Metformin is excreted through the kidneys, which means that people with kidney problems may be more susceptible to side effects. In some cases, metformin can cause kidney damage, so it’s important to have your kidney function checked regularly if you’re taking this medication.

How to Manage Metformin Side Effects

If you experience any of these side effects while taking metformin, there are several things you can do to manage them.

  1. Talk to your doctor: If you’re experiencing side effects, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor. They may be able to adjust your medication or dosage to reduce side effects.
  2. Take metformin with food: Taking metformin with food can help reduce gastrointestinal side effects. Eating a small snack or meal before taking your medication can also help.
  3. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help reduce the risk of kidney problems while taking metformin.
  4. Monitor your blood sugar levels: If you’re taking other medications that can lower blood sugar, monitor your blood sugar levels closely to prevent hypoglycemia.
  5. Take a Vitamin B12 supplement: If your doctor has advised you that you have a Vitamin B12 deficiency, taking a B12 supplement can help.


Metformin is an effective medication for the management of type 2 diabetes, but like any other drug, it can cause side effects. The most common metformin side effects are gastrointestinal problems, lactic acidosis, hypoglycemia, Vitamin B12 deficiency, and kidney problems. To manage these side effects, it’s important to talk to your doctor, take metformin with food, stay hydrated, monitor your blood sugar levels, and take a Vitamin B12 supplement if needed. If you experience any severe metformin side effects, such as lactic acidosis, seek medical attention immediately. By following these guidelines, you can safely manage your diabetes and minimize the side effects of metformin.

Metformin Side Effects FAQ

Here are the most common questions about metformin side effects.

Can metformin cause weight loss?

Yes, metformin may cause weight loss as an indirect effect of reducing insulin resistance and decreasing glucose levels in the blood. However, weight loss is not a guaranteed side effect of metformin and the amount of weight loss varies from person to person.

Can metformin cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)?

Metformin alone does not cause hypoglycemia. However, when combined with other medications that lower blood sugar, such as insulin or sulfonylureas, metformin can increase the risk of hypoglycemia.

Does metformin cause liver damage?

No, metformin does not cause liver damage in people with normal liver function. However, people with pre-existing liver disease or those taking high doses of metformin may be at risk of drug-induced liver injury.

Can metformin cause kidney damage?

Metformin is generally safe for people with normal kidney function. However, people with pre-existing kidney disease or at risk of kidney disease, such as the elderly and those with heart failure, should be monitored closely while taking metformin.

Can metformin cause heart problems?

No, metformin does not cause heart problems. In fact, metformin reduces the risk of cardiovascular events in people with type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing glucose levels in the blood.

Does metformin increase the risk of cancer?

No, there is no evidence to suggest that metformin increases the risk of cancer. In fact, some studies have shown that metformin may reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as breast, colon, and prostate cancers.

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