Does Metformin Cause Diarrhea? Facts Revealed!

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Metformin is a commonly administered drug for balancing blood glucose levels in people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes mellitus. This drug might lead to common side effects like diarrhea, vomiting, gas, bloating, etc. while these side effects subside for some people within the first 2 weeks of use, it prolongs in some people for a long time and shouldn’t be ignored.

How Does Metformin Function In Human Body?

Metformin is scientifically proven to help regulate blood glucose levels in the human body. This drug works effectively to prevent the liver from producing more glucose. When the functioning of the liver is disrupted, lactic acid is produced as the byproduct.

The excess glucose in the body is removed out through the intestines. Usually, this is not the route for the removal of unwanted glucose from the body. So, it affects normal bowel movements. 

As stated previously, when glucose gets eliminated through the intestine, lactic acid builds up in the body and acts as a gut irritant. This presence of lactic acid in the intestine is also a reason for diarrhea.

Another factor is that metformin has the capacity to change the balance of the gut microbiome in people taking this drug. In some people, there will be positive effects like short-chain fatty acid production while some people experience negative effects like diarrhea. 

Just like diarrhea, intake of metformin may also lead to other side effects like constipation. In fact, a study carried out found that people taking metformin had to face serious gastrointestinal problems like constipation far more than conditions like diarrhea.

That being said, diarrhea caused in most people will last for a very short period like 1 or 2 weeks. But, in some people, even after the body adjusts to the intake of metformin, there might be chronic diarrhea. 

Metformin Function In Body

Chronic diarrhea doesn’t stop within a few days. It lasts for many weeks and studies found that stopping the use of metformin helped stop chronic diarrhea

How Long Does Diarrhea Caused By Metformin Last?

The common side effect of diarrhea caused by metformin lasts only for a short time. Once the body adjusts to the medication, diarrhea will stop within a few days or a week. In case, diarrhea lasts for a long period, consult a physician so that he/she can determine if it is caused by metformin or other issues. 

Diarrhea Caused By Metformin

How To Manage Diarrhea From Metformin?

There are many ways to tackle gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea caused by metformin. Once you consult a health expert, the following things might be carried out by them:

  • Advice you to lower the dosage or begin with a light dosage
  • Suggest the intake of metformin pills during mealtime
  • Recommend the use of extended-release metformin which is to be taken less frequently thereby helping fight side effects

Some other ways your body can adjust to the metformin medication are:

  • Drink lots of water and stay hydrated so that diarrhea doesn’t lead to other serious issues
  • Follow the BRAT diet which includes bananas, rice, apple, tea, and toast that eases the pressure exerted on the gastrointestinal surface. Also, males are sure to consume more protein and follow other dietary instructions while taking metformin pills
  • Try having fiber-rich food because at times diarrhea is caused by a decrease in fiber content in the body. Consuming fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetable help control blood glucose levels and also aids in healthy weight loss
Manage Diarrhea From Metformin

Now, if your diarrhea is severe, your physician might suggest anti-diarrheal medications or even ask you to stop taking the metformin pills for a short period to observe if diarrhea resolves. According to a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, some people had to face chronic diarrhea even after years of using metformin. 

Other Side Effects Of Metformin

Some other common side effects of metformin that lasts for a short period include headache, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, bloating gas, and a bad metallic taste in the mouth. 

How To Tackle The Side Effects Of Metformin

To solve the side effects caused by Metformin, your doctor might recommend taking small doses or even stopping taking the pills. To tackle gastrointestinal issues, people are advised to take metformin along with meals. 

Final Thoughts

Metformin causes diarrhea which extends for a short term. For such situations and if the side effects last for a longer period, health experts suggest different ways to tackle them. So, to avoid such adverse effects in both the short and long term, you should strictly follow the recommendations provided by your doctor. This is the key to solving all side effects that might occur due to the intake of metformin. 

About Tim Mathew

Tim Mathew is an Endocrinologist specialized in general endocrinology, diabetes, and lipid metabolism. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in a science-related discipline and completed a medical school program in New York. Once Tim Mathew quoted that Endocrinology is both a challenging and rewarding medical specialty, so he wants to specialize in it. To know more about Tim Mathew kindly go through our about page.

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