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Metformin and Alcohol Consumption

Updated on August 2, 2011

Metformin and Alcohol Consumption

Metformin works by stimulating the naturally produced insulin in the body; this comes from the pancreas which is located in the stomach. Overweight people tend to be resistant to insulin, this means that after they have eaten, the body when the food is being digested does not use the insulin produced correctly, to compensate for this the pancreas produces more insulin. An excess of insulin in the system then creates hunger and so a vicious circle is started. Metformin when taken stimulates the body’s insulin receptors allowing blood sugar to be processed more efficiently and keeps the feeling of hunger under control

Before thinking about starting a course of Metformin for type 2- diabetes or weight loss, patients should consult with their medical practitioner to see if it will be a suitable drug for them to use. Some patients will be unable to take the drug especially if there is a history of renal or liver dysfunction, be honest too if you are a regular drinker of alcohol. If your doctor will then assess if you are fit and a yearly check up should be carried out to see the effect the drug is having upon your system.

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of a potentially life threatening condition called lactic acidosis. This is where the body produces a build up of lactic acid that cannot be neutralised quickly enough and could become toxic. When this happens the patient will feel nauseous and may have vomiting, a low blood pressure. Headache and a rapid pulse if lactic acidosis is suspected then medical advice should be sought immediately.
Lactic acidosis is a condition that can happen when a lack of oxygen in the body causes glucose in the bloodstream to be changed into lactic acid. If the body cannot process and reduce this fast enough then it could become toxic. Lactic acid can be experienced during periods of strenuous exercise, and can be felt as a muscular ache along with a burning sensation. Patients who drink large quantities of alcohol will become susceptible to lactic acidosis if they continue when taking Metformin.

Where mild forms of lactic acidosis have been experienced patients have shown little or no symptoms, more serious incidences of the condition though can cause excessive tiredness, vomiting, nausea and abnormal breathing. If the onset of lactic acidosis is rapid and severe, abnormal heart rates, low blood pressure and shock or coma could be encountered.

On being prescribed Metformin patients will should not feel any adverse effects if they drink moderately, there are those that will tell you that alcohol lowers the blood sugar levels and whilst this may be true, lower levels can result in hypoglycaemia when if this is suspected hospital treatment should be sought immediately. Consumption of alcohol is also associated with weight gain and if you are using Metformin as a dietary measure to lose weight there will be a negative effect if alcohol is drunk too often.

More information; Metformin and Alcohol


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    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

      Very informative hub. Voted up! Welcome.