In type II diabetes, the body doesn’t use insulin hormone appropriately. Initially, the beta cells produce extra insulin hormone to meet the rising demand due to sugar accumulating in the blood stream. With time, the pancreas cannot keep up with the rising demand to produce enough insulin to maintain the blood glucose within the normal range; the cells become resistant to the hormone. You may be able to regulate blood glucose through diet and exercise in the beginning, but since the condition is chronic, it worsens over time. At such a point the doctor may put you on Glucophage, but you have to continue with a healthy lifestyle.
What is Glucophage?
It’s a medication for type II diabetes prescribed to improve blood sugar control. It may be used alone or in combination therapy. It’s available as a solution and an oral tablet which is either immediate release or extended release tablets. Glucophage is the brand name, whereas Metformin is the generic name; the brand name is the name a company uses to market the drug, for the generic name, it’s the chemical or the official name.
The medication may be used alone or in combination therapy. It works by increasing sensitivity of the muscle cells to the actions of insulin hormone. Thus, the cells are able to move glucose from the blood stream effectively. The liver stores glucose when it’s not required by the body and releases it when need be, for example at night and between meals. The drug minimizes the quantity of glucose secreted by the liver. It also delays sugar absorption rate from the intestines into the blood after one consumes food. Hence, food spike is reduced in blood glucose after meals.
The medicine is also used by a woman with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome); the female has elevated insulin levels, consequently, one may develop insulin resistance. Too much insulin hormone may prompt an increase in testosterone hormone. Both problems (high level of insulin and testosterone) can trigger signs and symptoms of PCOS, for example:
- Excessive hair growth
- Weight gain
- Irregular periods
- Fertility issues
The physician may put a woman on Glucophage dosage to assist in improving the sensitivity of muscle cells, so, the levels of insulin, as well as testosterone drop in PCOS, and the symptoms are improved. A woman who had difficulties with conception may become pregnant. Although this is an off-label use, the drug has been of help to many women with PCOS. For more information on this, contact the medical care provider.
The drug is available in the following strengths:
- 500 mg
- 850 mg
- 1000 mg
The dose is different from one person to another, so there isn’t any fixed dose in a patient with type II diabetes or PCOS women. The dosage is individualized based on effectiveness as well as tolerance; nevertheless, the maximum daily recommended dose shouldn’t be exceeded. In adults, the maximum daily dose is 2250 mg and 2000 mg in children aged 10 to 16 years. As for Glucophage XR, the recommended maximum daily dose in adults is 2000 mg.
It’s advisable to take the medication in divided doses with meals. As for extended release tablets, they are generally taken once daily, preferably with the evening meal. Both immediate and extended release tablets must be started on a low dose with a gradual increment to reduce gastrointestinal negative effects and allow the health professional to determine the minimum dosage needed to control blood glucose or to improve symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome. Below is the recommended dosage schedule:
- In adults – the initial dosage is 500 mg three to four times, once daily to 850 mg two to three times in a day or 1000 mg taken two times every day. To ensure the drug is working as expected, monitor and record your blood sugar regularly as guided by the diabetes educator. If blood sugar level is still high consecutively, inform the doctor for adjustments to be made. The increment is done by adding 500 mg weekly or 850 mg every 14 days. As for the extended-release tablet, the initial dose is 500 mg daily during the evening meal. To get the desired results, the dosage increment is 500 mg weekly. A patient may safely switch from immediate release to extended release tablet at the same daily dose one was on. But one is closely monitored and adjustments made if need be.
- Pediatrics – the initial dose is 500 mg twice daily, taken with meals. Dosage increment is done in 500 mg once a week but taken in divided doses. Please note the use and effectiveness of extended release tablet in children haven’t been established.
If a patient has been on the maximum Glucophage dosage for four weeks and has not responded effectively to it, one may be put on a combination therapy.
What to bear in mind before taking it
It’s advisable to consider the potential benefits against the risks associated with the medicine. If the benefits outweigh the side effects, you can take the medicine. The following information may be of help in making a decision to use the drug or not:
Existing health conditions– it is a determining factor if you should take the drug or not. Inform the health care practitioner of current and past medical history, for example, kidney as well as liver problems, since you may be at risk of lactic acidosis. What is lactic acidosis? It’s a life-threatening condition in which lactic acid accumulates in the body and the patient is more prone to the condition if one has:
- Liver or kidney disease
- Have congestive heart failure
- Have a serious infection
- Consume alcohol in large quantity
- Is dehydrated
Type 1 diabetes and diabetic ketoacidosis – this drug shouldn’t be used to treat these conditions. Insulin injections are used instead.
Pregnant women – the medicine is in pregnancy category B, this means, according to animal studies, there isn’t any risk shown on the fetus when the female takes it. However, discuss with the physician if you can use the drug since animal studies can’t be relied upon to always predict how humans respond. The drug is only used during pregnancy if clearly needed.
Breastfeeding women – the drug can be passed into breast milk leading to side effects in the breast-feeding baby. Consult the doctor to help you in making a decision to either stop breastfeeding or using the medicine.
Seniors – individuals aged 80 years and above should avoid using the drug as they are at a greater risk of lactic acidosis. But if you have to use the drug, tests will be run to confirm that the function of the kidneys, if they are working normally, minimum dosage is prescribed.
Allergies – the medication can lead to a severe allergic reaction. Avoid taking the medicine if you have ever experienced allergic reaction before