In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for metformin, trade name GlucophageTM and FortametTM.

What it’s for & How to take

Metformin is an anti-diabetic medication used to help control high blood sugar in patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes known as type 2 diabetes.

This medication is only part of a complete treatment program which may also include exercise, diet, and other medications. Changing any of these factors may affect your blood sugar levels.

Metformin works by decreasing the production of sugar in your liver, decreasing the absorption of sugar in your intestines, and increasing your body’s sensitivity to the insulin you produce.

Maintaining proper sugar level in your body helps prevent nerve damage, kidney problems, vision difficulties, decreases heart attack and stroke risk and helps maintain sexual function.

If you are using metformin for a reason other than type 2 diabetes, please discuss this with your doctor.

Metformin is usually taken 1-3 times daily with a meal and a glass of water. Your dosage is based on your current condition. Your doctor may gradually increase your dose based on your response to therapy, blood sugar readings, and side effect tolerance.

If you are already taking another medication to treat Type 2 diabetes and your doctor wants to start you on this medication, ask your doctor if you need to change the dose of your first medication.

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.

If your doctor instructs you, check your blood sugar regularly and keep a record of the readings so you may share them with your doctor. If you have any high or low readings, please notify your healthcare provider.

Symptoms of low blood sugar include shaking, sweating, increased heartbeat, blurred vision, tingling in hands and feet and hunger. Most often, low blood sugar will occur following heavy exercise, low-calorie intake, or heavy alcohol intake.

Symptoms of high blood sugar include thirst, increased urination, confusion, drowsiness, rapid breathing, and a fruity breath odor. Let your doctor know if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Diabetes education training programs help you understand diabetes and all the treatment and monitoring that goes along with it. Call your local hospital and ask them when the next diabetes education program is being offered.

Most Important Warnings

  • Metformin rarely causes a serious and sometimes fatal condition called lactic acidosis. Initial symptoms include deep and rapid breathing with abdominal pain, vomiting, tiredness, chills and muscle pain. This is more likely to occur with the condition that stresses the body such as surgery, infection, a heart condition or heavy alcohol use. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for more information.

Other Warnings & Cautions

  • Carry glucose tablets with you in case you have symptoms of low blood sugar. In an emergency, table sugar, orange juice, or any other form of sugar will help raise your blood sugar. Make sure your close friends and family understand how to help you when you experience low blood sugar.
  • You may need to check your blood sugar more often when you have a fever, infection, exercise more than usual, skip a meal, drink alcohol or any other event that stresses your body. The elderly may be much more sensitive to the hypoglycemic low blood sugar effects of this medication. Ask your doctor how you should adjust your dose if your blood sugar is high or low.
  • This medication may make you dizzy, drowsy, or blur your vision. Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking metformin.
  • Let your pharmacist or doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking this medication.

Interactions & Side Effects

  • Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if metformin is safe for you to take.
  • Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
  • Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any heart, liver or kidney disease, a history of alcohol abuse, or a history of any other health conditions.
  • While taking metformin, you may feel some nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, a metallic taste in the mouth, and gas. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
  • Excess gas may be an issue for some patients; however, it can easily be treated with some over the counter medication. Ask your pharmacist for a recommendation.
  • Call your doctor right away if you begin to experience any breathing difficulties, severe abdominal pain, unusual tiredness, or muscle pain.

If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Updated 7/20