Metformin

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Glycomet (metformin) is a widely-used and highly effective medication that helps patients manage type 2 diabetes. It is not effective in type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis.

This easy-to-take and inexpensive treatment is suitable for patients age 10 and up. With doctor approval it may be used in some scenarios in younger children. Dosage adjustments may be needed for young children.

Glycomet is remarkably safe, with serious side effects being very rare and almost always a result of taking other glucose-inhibiting medications along with Glycomet, which can put patients at risk of blood sugar dropping too low. Some patients experience painful and disruptive gastrointestinal side effects from Glycomet (or any metformin product); these symptoms are usually resolved by taking an extended-release version of the medication.

How It Works

Rather than add insulin to the body, Glycomet reduces glucose so the body's own insulin can work more effectively:

  • Inhibits glucose production by the liver;
  • Inhibits glucose absorption from food;
  • Increases glucose uptake by muscle and fat tissues.

Some individuals will need to take other antidiabetic treatments, such as insulin, to fully manage the condition; these patients should monitor blood sugar closely and be alert for symptoms of low blood glucose.

Most patients find Glycomet is enough on its own, however, and the medication has numerous other advantages:

  • Administered orally once or twice daily, no injections are required;
  • Patients do not tend to gain weight during treatment, as often happens with insulin;
  • Extremely unlikely to produce serious side effects if used properly;
  • As effective as weight-loss, exercise and dietary changes in overweight patients;
  • Considerably less costly than most other antidiabetic treatments.

Glycomet can also be taken discreetly, much more so than injecting insulin.

Dosage & Administration

Treatment typically starts similarly for the vast majority of patients:

  • Start with a 500 mg twice per day for around two weeks.
  • If needed, dosage can be increased by 500 mg every two weeks until the effective dosage is found or maximum doses are reached.
  • Do not exceed 2500 mg in one day if taking regular Glycomet tablets.
  • Do not exceed 2000 mg in one day if taking extended-release tablets.

The relatively gradual increase of dosage allows the body to slowly adjust to treatment, which can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of gastrointestinal side effects.

Taking tablets is simple:

  • Regular tablets should be taken two times per day.
  • Occasionally a doctor may advise regular tablets be taken three times per day.
  • Extended-release tablets are taken just once per day.
  • All doses should be taken with a meal.

Effects may be noticeable within days of starting treatment if lower doses are sufficient, or it may take a month or longer when higher doses are needed, since dosage increases are at least two weeks apart. It's important to frequently test blood sugar during the start of treatment and following any dosage change. Once an effective dose is established monitoring blood sugar does not need to be done with such frequency.

Lifestyle Changes

Most patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are encouraged to make lifestyle changes, including:

  • Eating healthy
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Controlling blood sugar
  • Controlling blood cholesterol
  • Quitting smoking
  • Getting regular exercise

And so forth. While these changes, if made and maintained, are often enough to reverse diabetes and reduce or eliminate dependency on medications to control blood sugar, this is not always the case, and some patients are unable or unwilling to make or maintain these changes.

Glycomet is at least as effective as lifestyle changes; those for whom lifestyle makes little difference, or those who are unable or unwilling to make needed changes, will still have great results with Glycomet. Those who do make and maintain lifestyle changes while taking Glycomet will have even more significant results, likely weaning off the medication eventually.

Adverse Effects

About 50 percent of patients who take Glycomet (or any metformin product) experience some sort of stomach upset. Though not dangerous, these side effects can be uncomfortable and disruptive:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Metallic taste in mouth

Starting at low doses and gradually increasing every two weeks, as described above, minimizes these side effects. In many cases, they disappear entirely as treatment continues. If they do not recede within a few weeks of starting treatment, switching to extended-release tablets will likely help.

Glycomet is not an ideal treatment for patients with:

  • Moderate to severe kidney or liver problems
  • History of low blood sugar
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Severe respiratory or cardiac issues

In otherwise healthy patients dangerous side effects are extremely rare, and almost always because other antidiabetic medications are being taken at the same time; specifically, low blood sugar is a risk when taking multiple glucose-inhibiting medications.

Metformin/Glycomet

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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.

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