Healthy Living

What does Metformin do for Diabetes Type 2?

Has your doctor prescribed Metformin to help you control your blood sugar levels? Are you curious to find out how exactly does this drug work?

Then you have come to the right place. In the following article, we will focus on the different mechanisms through which Metformin efficiently treats the many troubling symptoms of diabetes type 2.

What is Metformin?

Metformin, also sold under brand names such as Riomet, Glumetza, Diabex, Diaformin, and others, is a prescription drug. It is an antidiabetic drug, used as a part of the treatment of diabetes type 2.

It was back in 1994 when Metformin was first approved in the US for medicinal use. Before that, Metformin has widely been used around the world. It is for almost 50 years that Metformin has been helping those with diabetes type 2 in the long run.

Metformin has also been recommended by the American Diabetes Association to treat a condition called prediabetes. Prediabetes is the term that is being used to refer to high than normal glucose levels that do not meet the diagnostic criteria for diabetes.

It seems that Metformin is especially beneficial to treat prediabetes among people under the age of 60. It is available for oral use in the form of an oral tablet or an oral solution. Approximately 120 million people worldwide have been prescribed Metformin.

It can be used alone or in combination with other drugs. However, it is most commonly prescribed in combination with a healthy, well-balanced diet and regular physical exercise. 

Metformin belongs to a drug class, also known as biguanides. Its active component is hydrochloride. This drug is generally considered safe to be used, it is effective, and it is quite affordable, which is why so many doctors are eager to prescribe it to their patients.

The best effects are seen among those who are either overweight or obese and those with a normal renal function.

Researchers have been investigated the possibility of including Metformin in the treatment of certain cancer types, neurodegenerative diseases, vision issues, and even aging. For now, it is only its glucose-lowering ability that has been backed up by science.

How does it work?

We mentioned Metformin being a part of the drug class biguanides. Biguanides work by inhibiting the production of glucose in the liver, thus lowering the high blood sugar levels in those diagnosed with diabetes type 2.

Metformin works in several ways to lower the high blood sugar levels among diabetics. Unlike other antidiabetic drugs, Metformin does not increase the levels of insulin inside the body as a way to lower the blood sugar levels.

Instead, it focuses solely on the production of glucose itself. Its main method of function is to decrease glucose production inside the liver. By reducing the glucose production in the liver, it also lowers the blood sugar levels, and with that, it increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

It also changes the way that the body is absorbing glucose. With the use of Metformin, you are looking at reducing the glucose absorption in the intestines from the food that you eat.

Metformin lowers the blood sugar levels gradually, and it does require a few days to pass before the first positive effects take place. It is usually the first medication that is prescribed to anyone who is diagnosed with diabetes type 2.

However, in order to fully work, its use must be followed by a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Although Metformin is able to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce glucose production in the liver, which are known problems for people who have been diagnosed with diabetes type 1, this medication is not recommended and approved for their use.

Despite that, there are some people who are still using it as well as doctors who have been prescribing it to their patients, especially if they happen to be overweight or obese.

Potential side-effects of using Metformin

Although generally considered safe to be used, Metformin can lead to some mild to more serious side-effects. Usually, the most reported side-effect is digestive issues such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, gas, and heartburn.

In most cases, the mild side-effects go away in a few days. 

Other more serious side-effects include:

  • Weakness;
  • Confusion;
  • Dizziness;
  • Irritability;
  • Trouble breathing;
  • Unusual sleepiness;
  • Tachycardia;
  • Drowsiness, etc.

Metformin can also interact with quite a few other medications. While some combinations are usually beneficial, when combined with others, the risk of side-effects increases.

It is very important to inform the doctor who is prescribing you Metformin about any other prescription and non-prescription medications and supplements that you are taking. 

Conclusion

When combined with a healthy diet and daily exercise, Metformin can efficiently maintain the blood sugar levels within normal ranges.

It is by reducing the glucose production and absorption and improving the insulin sensitivity that Metformin can treat patients with diabetes type 2.

Used alone or in combination with other drugs, Metformin is a safe and effective addition to the treatment for diabetes type 2.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4214027/

https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/diacare/early/2017/03/30/dc16-1509.full.pdf

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/10717544.2015.1089957

https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/39/2/187

https://dom-pubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/dom.13160
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