Type 2 Diabetes and Metformin

Feb 22, 2023

 by Isabelle Birdsall

You have just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and your doctor prescribes you something called metformin. You are told it is supposed to help control your blood sugars, but how exactly?

Metformin is a medication that helps your body use insulin more effectively. It works by decreasing the amount of glucose produced by the liver, controlling the amount of sugar in the bloodstream, and allowing insulin to adequately move glucose into the muscles and other tissues.  

What are the side effects? Like all medications, there are some side effects of metformin. Some may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Gas
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Metallic taste in mouth

I am experiencing some of these symptoms. What can I do? These side effect symptoms typically occur when you first start taking metformin and may improve over time. However, it is important to remember to take your medication with meals! Food can help slow the absorption of medication into your bloodstream, improving the effectiveness by aligning the mechanisms of the medication with the food you are eating.

Why is this medication causing me to have diarrhea? If you are experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea or stomach pain, it may be due to changes in gut bacteria, increased intestinal motility, or malabsorption of bile acids. Incorporating insoluble fiber into your meals as well as increasing your fluid intake may help to combat these symptoms.

Some examples of foods containing insoluble fiber include:

  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
  • Apples

I feel like this dosage is too much for me. What should I do? Metformin is typically prescribed in tablet form, and the dose can depend on several factors including age, weight, kidney function, and how well your diabetes is controlled. A typical starting dose for an adult is 500 mg – 850 mg once or twice daily. If you are having trouble tolerating the medication, talk to your doctor about starting with a lower dose or switching to a different medication.

What if I miss a dose? If you miss a dose of metformin, do not double up on dosing to make up for a missed one. Continue with regular dosing schedule as to not confuse your body.

In addition to attending regular check-ups with your doctor to monitor blood sugar levels and discuss medication, you can manage your diabetes by eating a nutritionally balanced diet and staying physically active to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle!