how long does it take for metformin to start working?

Discussion in 'Newly Diagnosed' started by Disneyfan, May 15, 2012.

  1. Disneyfan

    Disneyfan Active Member

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    I only started taking it on Friday night but I'd convinced myself I felt much better. Today I've eaten exactly the same things as I did yesterday up till now (i.e. same breakfast and lunch) but all the symptoms that sent me to the doctor have come back this afternoon ... dizziness, blurry vision, thirst ... is this normal?? I appreciate it will take some time to settle - was I just conning myself that I felt better the last couple of days?
  2. Grazer

    Grazer Well-Known Member

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    Fact is, Metformin is a great, safe drug that is a good preventative against cardio problems, but only has a very small affect on lowering your Blood sugar levels. It's your high blood sugar levels that are giving you the symptoms. You need to reduce them by changing your diet.
    Not sure what you may have been told by your doctor/nurse, but it could have been the normal NHS line we all got to start with, which won't help and which will lead you to increrasing levels of medication. Here's some general info that may help.

    All carbohydrates turn to sugar when we eat them, and no type 2 diabetic on diet only, or on diet and metformin only, can control their blood sugars (BGs) without controlling their carb intake. Even those on strong medication normally choose to control their carb intake to keep the level of medication they take down. The total number of carbs per day you can eat depends on how advanced your diabetes is. It’s perhaps worth starting at about 50% of normal levels for a non-diabetic then adjusting up or down according to how you get on. That’s 150 grams of carbs per day for a man, 125 for a woman. You can read the total carb content of food under “nutritional info” on the packet or wrapping, or look it up on the internet for loose food. Just google “carb content..”
    You also need to stop or reduce the bad carbs; that is the starchy ones that make your BG go up quickly.
    So obviously no sugar or glucose! But also no white bread, white rice, pasta, flour products like pastry, cake and batter. You can eat a little basmati rice, wholewheat pasta or the tri-color pasta fusilli ones in small quantities. Boiled new potatos are OK but not old pots mashed, boiled or in their jackets. (Roast is not so bad, the fat slows their absorption and conversion to glucose in the blood) Amongst other veg, parsnips are about the worst for BG, and carrots not great but ok in smaller amounts.
    Multi grain bread (not wholemeal) is not SO bad, but lots of us eat Burgen soya and linseed bread from tescos and sainsburys, although all bread should be in limited amounts.
    All fruit has carbohydrates, and needs to be included in the amounts of carbs you eat in a day. For most people, bananas are about the worst for pushing our BG up and berries (like strawberries, raspberries etc) are the least bad.
    No sweeties!
    Exercise is important. I tend to exercise about an hour after eating when I know my BG will be peaking. This helps to bring it down quicker and further. I do ten minutes hard work on an exercise machine, but you could run up and down stairs for ten minutes or go for a brisk walk.
    Returning to types of food and quantities of carbs - you can only find out how many you can eat by testing. Most type 2’s are not given access to testing equipment, so you should get your own – although try arguing with your Doc that you want to manage to NICE guideline blood sugar levels, and can’t do that without testing! If you have to buy a meter, they are cheap and most manufacturers will give them away for free. They make their money on the strips you have to use! So go for the meter with the cheapest testing strips. Some people test before and after eating, on waking (fasting test) and before bed. But if you have limited strips because of cost, the key to me is testing 2 hours after eating. If your BG is above, say, 7.8 at that stage, you need to cut down on the carb content the next time you have that meal. Test after various different meals and you soon get to see a pattern of what you can and can’t eat, and in what quantities. You can then reduce your testing. I said “below, say, 7.8” because NICE guidelines are below 8.5 but most of us think that’s a little high. 7.8 is the max. level at 2 hours after eating that a non-diabetic normally gets to so is perhaps a better target. Some then set progressively lower targets.
    Do ask lots of questions; there is normally an answer on here. The more you get to learn about your diabetes, the better it will be.
    Good luck!
    bookmite, Randburg and Tigger2014 like this.
  3. Disneyfan

    Disneyfan Active Member

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    To be honest I was told nothing other than here's the tablets, I'll refer you to education. Can't refer you to the dietician as you've moved house, find another doctor.

    Thanks for the information ... my parents are type 2 (no surprises there) and they checked my sugar yesterday at 5pm ... it was still way too high but lower than the fasting score that gave the diagnosis, so hopefully I'm on the right track.
  4. Grazer

    Grazer Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure you're on the right track, but you MUST cut the carbs and TEST to see what you can and can't eat. Then you'll be in charge.
  5. lindainsomerset

    lindainsomerset Member

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    Hi Disney fan,

    On a recent visit to Diabetic clinic I was told it can take 3months for Metformin to take any affect. ALso, I tried to cut my carbs right down, but it made me extremely depressed, hungry and very grumpy. I spoke to nurse about this and she said I MUST have carbs with every meal (small amount), and if I want a sandwich for lunch then to have one. My sugar levels are gradually coming down, without having to sacrifice everything I enjoy. Its a miserable enough existence not having cake/biscuits/chocolate etc, I certainly could not give up almost all carbs as well! Good luck.
  6. Daibell

    Daibell Forum Regular

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    Hi. As Grazer says, Met will only hva e limited effect. It is of most use if you are over-weight and insuin resistant. As I have found over the years, diet is the only real way to control your blood sugar despite the NHS not understanding the influence of diet on diabetes and relying on medication. Sadly some of use have to use both approaches b ut that's life. Ref carbs, you certainly don't need to have carbs with each meal; that's scientific nonsense but having zero carbs is not a good idea either; just stay below, say, 150 gm/day and measure to find out what level you can tolerate.
  7. xyzzy

    xyzzy Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm so how come I saw my Metformin take effect the very next day. It stopped my BG's spiking pretty instantly and I'm quite happy to upload my BG readings around that time to show you the facts. That effect is what most people report who test their own levels after eating. As to reducing BG's it manages to reduce mine by at most 1 mmol which again is what most others report who test their own BG's.

    If you cut your carbs right down and ended up hungry then you didn't do it right. The idea is to cut carbs and replace so that you don't get hungry.

    Your nurse is wrong, you do not need to have carbs with every meal and increasing number of doctors and health care professionals in the UK are gradually catching up with the fact that they are out of touch and out of date with the latest diabetic treatments offered in other countries with more progressive health services.

    Why assume that because you live in the UK the health service and your nurses training must be the best? All the diabetic nurses at my local diabetic centre (reputedly the best in the UK) are currently undergoing RETRAINING to tell them about low carb diets and why to advocate them. The UK is gradually catching up or so it would appear. Perhaps you should ask your nurse when she is getting retrained rather than tell you rubbish that was proved wrong decades ago?

    If your nurse was at your gp practice you do realise she needs no diabetic knowledge at all. She can call herself a DSN based on the simple fact that she's just a nurse that has been told to be the DSN by the practice. Perhaps you should ask to see her certificates showing she has some training in diabetes care?

    No one on here advocates that you should end up eating a zero carb regime most will tell you to consume the number of carbs to allow you to maintain safe blood sugar levels on the level of medication you are taking. Are you testing your levels? You say your levels are gradually reducing. I really do hope they reduce to safe levels soon.

    If you are finding things "a miserable enough existence" because you can't or don't want to reduce your carbs then rather than put your health at risk through diabetic complications such as going blind and amputations or depression because you are miserable perhaps you should ask your doctor or nurse for stronger medication so that you can cope with the level of carbs you want to consume. Alternatively if you want to live a high carb lifestyle just ask to go on insulin as that way you can cover the carbs you eat. Regardless of if you eat a low or high carb diet it needs to be a healthy one because of the very high risks of heart attacks and strokes associated with being overweight, having high cholesterol and / or high blood pressure.

    Whatever you do please don't tell a recently diagnosed T2 something that the majority of forum members would see as denying or undermining that new members opportunity to get control of their life back using methods that are proven to be very effective and safe and will consequently allow them to put in place a long term healthy life giving solution.
  8. Defren

    Defren New Member

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    Whoa!! Hang on a minute. Have you read the info Daisy gives all new members, and newly diagnosed? I guess not.

    Carbs MUST be reduced. Suggesting a newby who is scared, unsure and at a complete loss as to how to care for their diabetes eats carbs at will is irresponsible at best! No one needs carbs at every meal, not even a non diabetic. Carbs convert to glucose as soon as they are absorbed, so need to be reduced as much as possible, or you're never going to get good BG control.

    No one here would ever suggest living a miserable life, or cutting out carbs all together, but the vast majority will say cut the portion of refined carbs right, right down, or replace with a slightly higher amount of brown, or tri colour. Cut out mash and baked potato's but eat and test with a couple of small new ones instead. Change from white bread, to burgen, eat and test. It's about cutting carbs and finding a level you can tolerate, not cutting them out all together.

    I tolerate virtually no carbs so ULC, others can manage 100 - 150g a day. Eat and test is the way to find out.
  9. Grazer

    Grazer Well-Known Member

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    I'll just repeat what I said in my earlier post - the NHS will give you the sort of bad info that lindainsomerset repeated here. If you want to control your diabetes without increasing medication levels, you'll need to cut the carbs. How much by you'll find out with your meter
  10. diadeb

    diadeb Active Member

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    Hi Disneyfan, I completely agree with everything that Grazer has written. I am still being told to increase my carb intake by the Practice Nurse who is in charge of diabetics and every time I see her I tell that that I low carb and that her information is wrong - so we agree to disagree !! but then I suppose that she really has no alternative but to follow the present NICE guidelines as a HCP. In order to reduce your blood glucose levels then you must reduce your carbohydrate levels, there is simply no choice but it is by no means a miserable existance, you are able to loose excess weight, have increased energy levels and still eat wonderful foods so please go to the recipe section and enjoy. Best wishes for your future x
  11. DavideB

    DavideB Active Member

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    I am now in my third week type2 and my doc in Italy said ( i know you have all read it before :yawn:) you are diabetic you are fat lose weight,,That's IT..

    I came on this forum in a panic and the help was great and they all told me about LOW CARB... I have not had any Pasta, Bread, sweets, cakes, Sugar Etc and I FEEL GREAT I am on 2 x 500g Met a day and My Eye sight (went saturday for a test) has gone back to 6 years ago I can see so much better...What it is I do not know... But If it means No/low carbs and feeling this good...I am staying on it...I also walk half hour everyday not to fast but fast enough for me...The trick is to keep the same pace


    Yesterday and Today I was working up north and this morning I went into a small village shop and YAHOOOOOOOOOOO She sold Diabetic Plumb Cake!!!! Fantastico and I also found http://www.diabetichampers.co.uk LOVE IT!!!!

    Wishing you all the BEST...STICK AT IT....It worked for me and I am sure it will work for you!!!1 :thumbup:
  12. trking

    trking Member

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    Actually, you "should" have carbs at each meal ... Just like you "should" have some fat ... and you "should" have some kind of protein.

    Wrap "should" with "encouraged to" ... Here's why ...

    CARBS - If you leave carbs out of the picture, it sensitizes your fat cells. Thus, the next time you eat carbs, it "could" cause the carbs to go right to the fat cells.

    PROTEIN - Protein helps to maintain lean body mass ... However, too much protein can also lead to weight gain ... and Too Little protein can cause your body to start losing lean body mass and not fat.

    FAT - Fat helps to slow down the absorption in the blood stream and really works hand in hand with the pancrease.

    I agree with your nurse where she says you "must" have carbs, from this perspective:

    a. We don't really have to do anything, except for one thing: ... the choise is ours, correct? Even if we are in the worst kind of situation, we still have a choice. The ONLY thing we HAVE to do is "die" ... We have to, because we simply can't live forever ... and Making the right choices determines when we have to die, even though, most likely, we don't know when that is ... but, the fact is, we have a lot in our control ... and I suppose diet and exercise is a great start ...

    b. I think, "You are encouraged to eat good carbs, those that are low on the glycemic index, lean protein, preferably, Fish, Turkey, Chicken, and good fats, i.e., olive oil, fish oils, peanuts, macadamia nuts, etc." is a much more informative and direct statement for you.... But, to say you "must", is a very general statement.

    c. Step back and look at the big picture - recognize that the medication is to help "facilitate" but won't actually "take care of it for you" .... Heck, why not just continue eating the way you were, take your medication, and hope for the best? NOT a good idea ... Even when you just get your medication, as mentioned before, everyone is different, and metformin will act differently in everybody ... probably because everysingle person who has diabetes probably has different eating habits ... but, one thing in common, most likely, has led us to the symptoms of diabetes.

    d. Good carbs are good for you ... it's really the fiber you're after, AND the nutrients too... and fibre does help to lower collesterol ... So, yeah, "must" you eat carbs? No ... Are you "encouraged" to eat carbs, and I mean GOOD carbs? Absolutely ... why? Because the benefits outweigh the results of NOT eating good carbs, i.e.: over sensitive fat cells, lack of fibre, assistance with raising good collesteral levels.

    I hope this helps ... I am in not way a doctor or trying to be one, just passing on information from my own knowledge ... If I'm wrong, please correct me .....

    God bless!

  13. hanadr

    hanadr Well-Known Member

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    Disneyfan
    what you need is a BG meter. without one, you are just guessing how things are going and how you feel isn't all that reliable. I for example NEVER feel it if my blood glucose goes up over my personal target [ 6] It rarely does!
    Even after 10 years of keeping Bg under control and being fairly good at it, i still check pretty much every day at least once. I keep on target about 95% of the time and keep prettyfit and well.
    couldn't do without my Meterr though
    Hana
  14. Daibell

    Daibell Forum Regular

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    Hi Trking. Whilst it may or may not be important to have carbs I'm aware of no evidence whatsoever that you should have carbs 'with every meal'. Why would your fat cells become more sensitised because you miss carbs every other meal for example? I think this is just NHS non-evidence-based medicine which we can do without.

    Ref Metformin taking up to 3 months to have any effect (Lindainsomerset's NHS experience); why? I doubt any of the drug suppliers would agree with that; I'd love to know the evidence. My db GP said my Sitagliptin might take up to 6 months to work; it worked within 2 days. Why would a drug that suppresses an enzyme take 6 months to work? I think some of the HCPs just make it up as they go along.
  15. hophead

    hophead Member

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    What I find easier to follow in terms of diet is to avoid food that have been highly processed or refined.
  16. sweldbetty

    sweldbetty New Member

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    I've lost 12 pounds in 5 months. I've had a steady weight loss, with a slight peak about two months into Metformin (1500mg a day). I didn't lose too much at the beginning - possible a few pounds in the first few months. I'm watching my diet very closely (and, honestly, not doing enough exercise) and need to lose another 16-18 pounds to be a really ideal weight, if that gives you a sort of indication.

    The fact that you went from "being skinny and healthy to fat and sick" is worrying. Maybe something else is wrong? Metformin is not a fix all and makes you quite sick. I'd rather stay slightly big than be on the horrid stuff but since I'm TTC I don't have a choice. I'd get yourself looked at, maybe something else will help. Good luck.

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