Summary of Metformin Side Effects
In addition to experiencing allergic reactions to metformin, when used with other medications, metformin can cause low blood sugar, also referred to as hypoglycemia. Changes in mood and coordination are other side effects associated with metformin. Ingesting metformin can also cause abdominal discomfort or pain.
What is Metformin?
Metformin, also referred to as Fortamet, Avandamet, Januvia and Janumet, comes in tablet and liquid form. Taken with meals, metformin may be prescribed to be ingested two to three times a day. The prescription drug was used in Europe (France) as early as 1979. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the usage of metformin in the U.S. in 1994. The controlled prescription drug decreases the amount of sugar or glucose that the liver produces, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels in the body.
Metformin is used to treat type 2 diabetes. Specifically, metformin is used to control blood glucose levels. Patients taking metformin can lose weight, another factor that can help treat type 2 diabetes. Metformin may be prescribed with insulin and other drugs to treat diabetes. When used with insulin, metformin can improve the effectiveness of insulin. Additionally, metformin is used to treat polycystic ovary syndrome.
Common Metformin Side Effects
Ingesting metformin can cause various common side effects, including:
- Mood changes
- Light headedness
- Sweating (absent physical exertion)
- Mouth tingling sensation
- Changes in appetite
- Poor coordination
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Cold like symptoms (e.g. runny nose)
- Changes in taste
- Reddening of the skin
- Changes to nails
- Changes in stool
Allergic reactions such as wheezing, hives or swelling can also be experienced with metfomin.
Serious Metformin Side Effects
One of the serious side effects caused by metformin is lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis effects blood PH, lactate and electrolytes. It is caused when acid builds in the bloodstream; it impacts the breakdown of glucose in body tissue. Symptoms of lactic acidosis are tiredness, fatigue and weakness. Other serious metformin side effects include:
- Muscle pain
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat or fast heartbeat
- Kidney problems
- Liver problems
- Chest pain
Metformin Side Effects in Conjunction with Other Medication
Types of medications metformin can interfere with include antihistamines, furosemide, oral steroids, phenytoin, nadolol, calcium channel blockers and thyroid disease medications. Herbs, vitamins and nutritional supplements can also interfere with metformin or cause medical complications. Patients are encouraged to inform their physicians of all medications and non-prescription drugs, vitamins, supplements and herbs they are taking before they start taking metformin.
Pancreatic Side Effects with Metformin
The FDA reported receiving 88 cases of acute pancreatitis and two cases of necrotizing pancreatitis between October 2006 and February 2009 for patients using sitagliptin and metformin. Symptoms that may indicate existence of pancreatic problems include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and/or loss of appetite. Some patients taking metformin can experience anorexia. Patient urine, serum, glucose, electrolytes may need to be studied to measure the impact metformin has had on the pancreas. More information on metformin side effects and reported problems is available at this side effects website.