Medication Notes – Metformin

Pronounced as met-four-min (British, UK)

What Type of Drug

Metformin is in a type of drug class named biguanides (MedlinePlus, 2020).

What it Treats

Metformin is administered to help treat or prevent type 2 diabetes. Additionally, it can be used to treat polycystic ovary syndrome, otherwise known as PCOS (NHS, 2019).

How it Works

Metformin lowers glucose production in the liver, and increases body sensitivity to insulin, allowing absorption to occur effectively, thus lowering blood sugar (Kadanoff, Hay, 2021).

Side Effects

Common side effects involve nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach ache, lack of appetite, and a metallic taste in the mouth (NHS, 2019).

Serious side effects include shallow breathing, severe fatigue, feeling cold, and a decreased heart rate. It can also put a patient at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency, and hypoglycaemia.

Patient Advice

Can be prescribed to adults, children above the age of 10, and to pregnant or breastfeeding women. However, it is unsuitable to those who have suffered from allergic reactions from medication, have uncontrolled diabetes, have acquired kidney or liver issues, have a severe infection, have acquired heart issues, have circulation or breathing difficulties, and to those who consume a high level of alcohol (NHS, 2019).

The maximum daily dose of metformin is 2000mg a day (or 4x 500mg a day), it is advised to take with meals to reduce side effects (NHS, 2019). Doctors can provide appropriate advice to the patient on dosage, each case has varying dosages.


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