Metformin has been a game-changer for many individuals dealing with type 2 diabetes. It’s known for aiding in weight control, reducing insulin resistance, and lowering the chances of developing serious diabetes-related health issues, such as heart and kidney diseases.
For those navigating the complexities of type 2 diabetes, Metformin might be suggested as part of their treatment plan to enhance their overall well-being. Since its introduction in 1994, Metformin has become a staple in diabetes management, often recommended by healthcare experts.
The American Diabetes Association currently endorses the use of Metformin for individuals who meet certain criteria, including:
- Adults with prediabetes aged between 25 and 59
- An HbA1c level of 6% or above
- A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or more
- Fasting plasma glucose levels of 110 mg/dL or higher
- Those who have had gestational diabetes in the past
- Anyone diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
To better understand how Metformin can benefit you, it’s a good idea to delve into its mechanisms and talk things over with your primary care doctor.
How Long Does It Take for Metformin to Work?
Essentially, Metformin works by minimizing the sugar your body takes in and makes. You might start to notice its impact as soon as two days after beginning the medication, but it often requires a little over a year to achieve its maximum effectiveness.
Your body gradually adjusts to Metformin’s active components. These elements guide your liver to cut down on the usual amount of glucose it generates while also boosting how responsive your body is to insulin. Such important shifts don’t happen overnight, particularly for those with more advanced stages of diabetes.
6 Signs Metformin Is Working
You might be curious about how metformin functions and the positive changes it could bring to your everyday life. Here are six signs that show Metformin is doing its job in managing symptoms of high blood sugar.
Stable Blood Sugar Levels
Health professionals often suggest monitoring your blood sugar four times a day if you have diabetes. After starting on Metformin, you should start to see a more consistent level within several days. Over time, Metformin helps your body adapt to a new way of handling glucose, leading to fewer drastic fluctuations as time goes on.
Once your blood sugar stabilizes over time with Metformin, you’ll likely feel more energetic. Your body will use glucose more efficiently, giving a boost to your brain and organs. This newfound vitality can also help combat cancer by empowering your cells to fend off harmful free radicals in your blood.
Improved Glycemic Control
Better management of blood sugar highs means enhanced glycemic control. Metformin aids in restoring this crucial function, allowing for a more balanced natural regulation of glucose and insulin.
Noticing some weight loss is a good sign that Metformin is effective. With improved sugar processing, your body won’t convert as much glucose into fat, which is particularly beneficial for those who are overweight or have experienced weight gain from other medications.
Reduced Bathroom Visits
Excess glucose in the blood due to diabetes can lead to frequent urination as your kidneys work overtime to eliminate the sugar. A welcome effect of Metformin is less frequent trips to the bathroom, as your blood sugar levels drop and your body produces less urine, making you feel less thirsty.
When your body struggles to turn glucose into energy, your brain signals the need for more food. Metformin may take a few days to kick in, but once it does, you’ll naturally start to feel less hungry because your body is converting glucose into energy more efficiently, diminishing the urge to eat as often.
6 Signs Metformin Is Not Working
Certainly, Metformin can come with its own set of side effects, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not doing its job. Should you notice any of the following side effects worsening or persisting beyond a few weeks, it’s important to reach out to your healthcare provider for advice:
- Feeling queasy
- Throwing up
- Loose stools
- Less hunger
- Shedding pounds
- A strange taste in your mouth akin to metal
- Acid reflux
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Hard stools
- Abdominal discomfort
Now, let’s explore some indicators that may suggest Metformin isn’t functioning optimally in your system. If these symptoms are impacting your day-to-day life, it’s crucial to have a conversation with your doctor.
Blood Sugar Levels Fluctuating
When using Metformin, the goal is to stabilize blood sugar levels and improve control. If you’re cutting back on sugar and staying active but still see your blood sugar levels climbing after starting Metformin, bring this up with your doctor.
Feeling Worn Out
Metformin is supposed to help your body convert glucose into energy efficiently. If you’re feeling unusually tired since beginning the medication, it may be a sign that it’s not performing as expected.
If you find yourself feeling hungrier than usual, it could mean your body isn’t utilizing glucose properly for energy. If this is a concern, talk to your doctor about it. Eating more often might indicate that either Metformin or the dosage you’re on isn’t quite right for you.
Putting on Weight
Typically, people experience weight loss when taking Metformin. However, if you’re gaining weight while maintaining the same diet and exercise routine, it may suggest that your sensitivity to glucose hasn’t improved.
A drop in blood sugar can cause blood vessels to narrow, increasing blood flow to the brain. Metformin is expected to reduce headaches, so if you’re having just as many, or even more, after starting your dose, it’s time to consult your doctor.
Metformin should ideally lessen your thirst by helping your body absorb glucose better. If you find yourself drinking more fluids than usual, this could be a sign that the medication isn’t working as it should.
What if Metformin Is Not Working?
When you start on Metformin, the initial dose might not be quite right—it could be too small. Your doctor will likely adjust the dose once or maybe even twice to discover the perfect balance for your body. Besides tweaking the dosage, your doctor is also there to chat about alternative treatments that fit with your medical background. Don’t worry if Metformin isn’t the one for you; it simply suggests that other paths to better health might suit you more.
What to Do if Metformin Has Stopped Working
Metformin usually comes into play after you’ve tried lifestyle tweaks such as a healthier diet, regular workouts, and shedding some pounds. But if it doesn’t quite get your blood sugar levels in check, glucose might build up too much in your blood. This can lead to a bunch of health issues like high blood pressure, heart and artery problems, strokes, kidney disease, eye conditions like retinopathy or glaucoma, and nerve damage.
If Metformin isn’t doing the trick, your doctor might suggest upping your dose. Starting off with a smaller dose and waiting a bit to see how it goes is often a good move before you go for a stronger prescription.
Should a higher dose not make a difference, or if things get worse, your primary care provider might point you toward another medication. Some common alternatives include:
- Actos (Pioglitazone)
- DPP-4 Inhibitors like Januvia (sitagliptin), Tradjenta (linagliptin), Onglyza (saxagliptin), and Nesina (alogliptin)
- GLP-1 Agonists such as Bydureon (exenatide), Byetta (exenatide), Saxenda (liraglutide), Mounjaro (tirzepatide), and Adlyxin (lixisenatide)
- Injectable Insulin
- SGLT2 Inhibitors including Invokana (canagliflozin), Farxiga (dapagliflozin), Jardiance (empagliflozin), and Steglatro (ertugliflozin)
- Sulfonylureas like Amaryl (glimepiride), Glynase (glyburide), and Glucotrol (glipizide)
And if neither Metformin nor these meds are right for you, don’t fret—your doctor’s got more tricks up their sleeve. Insulin therapy can start working in half an hour or less, and incretin-based therapies are great after meals.
CityRyde.com and its team members shall not be held responsible for any adverse effects, consequences, or misunderstandings that may arise from the use of Metformin discussed in this article. Users are encouraged to independently verify product information and seek professional medical advice before making any health-related decisions. By reading and relying on this article, users acknowledge and accept that CityRyde.com and its team members are not liable for any issues that may arise from the use of Metformin or similar products.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I take Metformin but don’t actually need it?
Taking Metformin when it’s not needed can interfere with how your body absorbs vitamin B12, an important nutrient that helps prevent anemia. So, you might up your chances of having low red blood cell counts. While some believe it could help you live longer even without diabetes, studies haven’t backed this up. Plus, since you need a prescription for it, getting Metformin without a diabetes diagnosis is unlikely.
How often do I need to check my blood sugar while on Metformin?
Once you start Metformin as your doctor prescribes, side effects may kick in after a few days. Keep testing your blood sugar at least four times a day, or stick to the same schedule you had before starting Metformin.
When’s the best time to take Metformin?
Timing matters when you begin taking Metformin. You’ll usually take the pill form with meals a couple or three times a day, while the liquid version might be just twice a day with meals or snacks. Ask your doctor if you’re unsure what to munch on with your meds. They’ll also tell you to steer clear of alcohol since it increases the risk of lactic acidosis by causing more buildup in your liver.
Are there any alternatives to Metformin?
If Metformin isn’t doing the trick, your healthcare provider might point you toward other diabetes meds like Ozempic or Jardiance, which both aid in controlling blood sugar levels.
What should I do if I skip a Metformin dose?
Did you miss your metformin dose? If it’s only been a short while, just take it with some food as you normally would. But if your next dose is soon, just carry on with that one to avoid taking too much. Also, hold off on certain vitamins and supplements while you’re waiting to see how Metformin works for you. Some, like St. John’s wort and prickly pear cactus, don’t mix well with the medication and could mess with your digestion or blood sugar levels if you use them to replace a missed dose of Metformin.
- Corcoran, C., & Jacobs, T. F. (2023, January). Metformin. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK518983/
- Chen, X., Wang, D.-D., & Li, Z.-P. (2020, October 19). Time Course and Dose Effect of Metformin on Weight in Patients With Different Disease States. Taylor & Francis Online. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17512433.2020.1822164
- Hamilton. (2020, July 16). How to Manage Diabetes. Hamilton Health Center. https://www.hamiltonhealthcenter.com/how-to-manage-diabetes/
- Nippert, A. R., Chiang, P.-P., Del Franco, A. P., & Newman, E. A. (2022, August). Astrocyte Regulation of Cerebral Blood Flow During Hypoglycemia. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9274859/
- Bell, D. (2022, August). Metformin-Induced Vitamin B12 Deficiency Can Cause or Worsen Distal Symmetrical, Autonomic and Cardiac Neuropathy in the Patient With Diabetes. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35491956/
- Mohammed, I., Hollenberg, M. D., Ding, H., & Triggle, C. R. (2021, July 15). A Critical Review of the Evidence That Metformin Is a Putative Anti-Aging Drug That Enhances Healthspan and Extends Lifespan. Frontiers. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2021.718942/full
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, November 1). Metformin (Oral Route). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/metformin-oral-route/proper-use/drg-20067074
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