Glucophage (Metformin) and Diabetes
The following guide to Glucophage should help you to understand more about this medication, its side effects and its value.
What is Glucophage?
Glucophage tablets (and Glucophage SR tablets) each have an active ingredient called Metformin hydrochloride.
Metformin is widely used to aid in the control of blood glucose levels amongst people with type 2 diabetes.
How does Glucophage help people with type 2 diabetes?
Amongst people with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas fails to produce sufficient levels of insulin.
Furthermore, the cells in the body may be resistant to any insulin that is present. Normally, insulin would instruct cells to remove sugar from the blood, but in people with diabetes blood sugar levels can climb too high.
As we said before, Glucophage contains the ingredient Metformin. Metformin (Metformin hydrochloride) is a type of medicine known as a biguanide. This works to lower the amount of sugar in the blood of people with diabetes.
It does this by lowering the amount of sugar produced in the liver, and also increasing the sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin.
The cells are therefore more able to remove sugar from the blood. Metformin also slows the absorption of sugars from the intestines. Metformin lowers blood sugar levels between and after meals.
Who is Glucophage prescribed to?
Glucophage is usually prescribed as a treatment for people with type 2 diabetes who are overweight or obese. When diet and exercise fail to adequately control blood glucose levels, Glucophage is prescribed.
Sometimes, this medicine is used in conjunction with other anti-diabetic medication.
How often do people with type 2 diabetes take Glucophage?
Generally, Glucophage tablets are standard release. They should be taken two or three times each day with meals, or immediately after meals.
Glucophage SR tablets are prolonged release tablets designed to release Metformin more slowly, to provide a steady blood level and stabilise blood glucose. As with all medication and health issues, people with diabetes should consult a healthcare professional for guidance before taking any medication or making any changes to their diet or exercise regime.
Will Glucophage (Metformin) give me low blood sugar levels?
Used in isolation, Glucophage will not automatically result in lower blood glucose levels. However, low blood sugar levels can often be achieved by combining Metformin with diet, exercise and possibly other antidiabetic medication.
What should I be aware of when taking Glucophage?
People with diabetes taking Metformin should be aware of their blood glucose levels. They should understand what hypoglycaemia is, the symptoms of hypoglycaemia and what to do if you experience hypoglycaemia. Seek more information about hypoglycaemia from your healthcare professionals.
Can anything go wrong with Glucophage?
Taking Metformin can sometimes cause a rare condition known as lactic acidosis. This occurs when lactic acid builds up in the blood. Doctors monitor metformin patients for this kind of side effect.
Kidney function should be monitored regularly when taking Glucophage, at least once or twice each year. For some people with diabetes, checks will be more regular.
Patients having certain types of X-ray should advise their doctor and not stop the medication. Similarly, if you are due to have surgery under general anaesthetic you should consult with your doctor.
When is metformin not advisable for people with diabetes?
People with the following complication/conditions should not take Metformin/Glucophage:
- Diabetic keto-acidosis.
- Diabetic pre-coma (due to ketoacidosis).
- Decreased kidney function.
- Kidney failure.
- Decreased liver function.
- Severe infections or trauma.
- Reduced blood flow to vital internal organs (shock).
- People who have stopped breathing (respiratory failure).
- Heart failure.
- People who have recently had a heart attack.
- Alcohol intoxication.
- Children under ten years of age.
- This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to its ingredients.