Metformin is a medication used to treat type-2 diabetes. It is the generic form of Glucophage, and performs the same function. The active ingredient works by helping the body to keep a better control over blood sugar levels, by increasing the efficiency of insulin. Metformin is available to buy in the UK as both a tablet and an oral suspension fluid.
- Efficient at managing blood glucose
- Helps keep condition under control
- Tablet and oral suspension available
Type-2 diabetes is by far most common form of the condition. Around 90 per cent of all diabetes cases in the UK are thought to fall into this category. It is characterised during its initial stages by symptoms which can often be mild and, as a result, may go unnoticed. These include needing to go to the toilet more often to urinate, dry eyes leading to sight difficulties, and a general sense of tiredness and lethargy.
As opposed to type-1 diabetes, which is caused by the immune system attacking the pancreas and usually manifests earlier on in life, type-2 diabetes more often develops in people over the age of 40. Several risk factors can contribute towards the condition, such as being overweight, not getting enough exercise, and having an unhealthy diet. It is also more prevalent in those of South Asian or Chinese ethnicity, and also has a higher rate of incidence in people of Black African or Caribbean origin.
People with type-2 diabetes will, simply put, not be able to produce an amount of insulin sufficient enough to deal with blood sugar levels. Left untreated, the condition can lead to potentially dangerous complications; if blood sugar is consistently high over a long period, then nerve damage can result, as can heart and organ disease.
Following diagnosis, treating the condition usually begins with addressing those lifestyle factors and dieting habits which can contribute towards it. The introduction of a special diet and exercise programme will form the initial approach, but if these prove to be insufficient methods in bringing down blood sugar to a normal and healthy level, prescription treatment may be suggested.
The function of metformin, which is a type of medication called a biguanide, is to reduce blood sugar in three ways: by limiting the amount of sugar produced by the liver and pumped outwards; by increasing the sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin, so that more blood sugar can be extracted; and finally by decelerating the process of absorption of sugars from food in the intestine.
We do not sell this item on our site. To be prescribed Metformin, we recommend that you see your GP or diabetes nurse in person. They will be able to assess which medication and dosage is most suitable, following a review and tests.
Follow the prescribed directions when using this item, and read the instructions in the leaflet carefully prior to use. This will help you to reduce the chances of side effects, and allow the medication to be at its most effective.
- Take as directed.
For the oral suspension:
- In most cases, the starting dose will be one 500mg dose (a 5ml spoonful) two or three times per day.
- This may be increased by your doctor, up to a maximum of 3000mg (6 spoonfuls) daily, taken as three doses.
For the tablet:
- A typical starting dose is one 500mg or 850mg tablet, twice or three times per day.
- Following a period of review, this may increased up to a maximum of 3000mg per day, again taken as three separate doses.
For both versions:
- Take with food.
- Space your doses out across the day as evenly as possible.
- Do not exceed the prescribed amount.
- If you miss a dose, skip it and take your next dose at the scheduled time.
The above forms only a summary of the directions you will need to follow when taking this medication. More detailed instructions can be located in the leaflet provided.
If you notice the appearance of any signs of the following, tell your doctor straight away: lactic acidosis, which include feeling or being sick, abdominal pain, muscle cramps, severe tiredness, and difficulty breathing; or an allergic reaction, such as swelling of the face, lips, mouth and tongue, a severe rash or hives.
Very common (1 in 10 people or more):
Digestive problems, feeling or being sick, diarrhoea, stomach ache, or loss of appetite.
Common (1 in 10 people or less):
Very rare (1 in 10,000 people or less):
Skin reactions such as erythema, itching or an itchy rash, or low vitamin B12 levels in the blood.
The above is not a complete list of side effects. more comprehensive information can be found in the leaflet which is supplied with the treatment.
Taking it with other medicines
Let your prescriber know if you are using any other treatments, such as the following, as they may affect your ability to use this product safely: angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors; diuretics; beta-2 agonists; corticosteroids; or other medicines to treat diabetes mellitus.
Conditions to look out for
Inform your prescriber if you have any medical conditions which may affect your capacity to use this item, so that they make an accurate judgment as to whether or not it is suitable.
Do not use it if you: have liver or kidney problems; have uncontrolled diabetes, such as severe hyperglycaemia or ketoacidosis; are dehydrated from, for instance, long-lasting or severe diarrhoea; have a severe infection; are being treated for heart failure or have recently had a heart attack; have severe problems with your circulation; or drink a lot of alcohol.
When using this treatment, approach your doctor for advice on taking it if you are due to have an X-ray or a scan involving the injection of contrast medicines, or if you need to have major surgery.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying for a baby, do not take this medication and speak to your doctor.
Driving and using machinery
If you experience any dizziness or loss of concentration, do not drive or use machines.
Food, drink and alcohol
Alcohol should be avoided while taking metformin.
It is advisable to take these tablets with or just after food.
Can I still drink alcohol?
The risk of lactic acidosis becomes higher when you drink alcohol at the same time as taking this medicine, and so must therefore be avoided.
Will I still be able to drive?
Yes, as it is not likely to affect your ability to drive. However, if you notice any side effects which could inhibit your judgment or motor skills, do not drive and seek advice from your doctor.
Can I take the medicine while pregnant?
It is not suitable for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. You will need to speak to your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding about the best possible courses of treatment.
How should I store it?
Store below 25°C. The oral solution will need to be discarded 28 days after opening.
Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?
The tablets consist of the following ingredients: metformin hydrochloride, povidone, magnesium stearate, hypromellose, and macrogol.
In the oral suspension fluid are the following: metformin hydrochloride, sodium methyl parahydroxybenzoate (E219), sodium propyl parahydroxybenzoate (E217), liquid maltitol (E965), sodium dihydrogen phosphate dihydrate, disodium hydrogen phosphate anhydrous (E339), acesulfame potassium (E950), ammonia caramel (E150c), peppermint flavour (containing propylene glycol, isopropyl alcohol and pulegone), peach flavour (containing propylene glycol and isopropyl alcohol) and purified water.
Do not take these medications if you are allergic to any substances contained therein.
Is it available over-the-counter?
You can only buy Metformin if you have a prescription for it. This can be obtained following consultation with a doctor or healthcare professional.
Is it right for me?
The diabetes medication you use will be determined during consultation in person with your GP or specialist. They will initiate a prescription once for you once they have decided on the most appropriate treatment.
Metformin is not available to buy on our site at this time. We recommend you see your GP to have your prescription for this treatment renewed.
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