Alcohol and Metformin: Interactions and Side Effects
What are the possible interactions of alcohol and metformin? What should you know about alcohol with metformin side effects?
These are common questions people about metformin, which is a diabetic drug. Below what should be known about alcohol and metformin will be covered, including the possible alcohol with metformin side effects.
Metformin helps control high blood sugar levels, and this can in turn help prevent serious complications like kidney damage, nerve problems, and blindness. When your diabetes is well-controlled, it can also help lower the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
The way metformin works is by restoring the way your body responds to the insulin you produce, and it decreases the amount of sugar made by your liver, and thereby absorbed by your stomach and intestines.
Side effects of metformin can include nausea, vomiting, general upset stomach, diarrhea, weakness or a metallic taste in your mouth. In some cases, if metformin is taken with other diabetic medications, it can cause low blood sugar, but this isn’t usually a symptom of this medicine on its own.
Understanding drug interactions is important with any medicine you’re prescribed, which is why you should tell your doctor about all other medicines you’re taking, your medical history, and even supplements and vitamins you take.
Some of the medicines that can interact with metformin include beta-blockers and any medicine that affects your blood sugar. Beta-blockers treat many conditions such as migraines and high blood pressure.
One of the biggest risks of metformin is something called lactic acidosis, and this will be described below.
While the risk of lactic acidosis is rare, it is a possible side effect to be aware of, particularly if you drink alcohol with metformin. Lactic acid is a naturally occurring chemical in your body, but when you take metformin, you produce more of it than you normally would. Alcohol affects this by making it harder for your body to remove lactic acid efficiently.
What this means is that as you drink too much alcohol with metformin can lead to a buildup of lactic acid, which can ultimately damage many parts of your body including your heart, lungs, kidneys and blood vessels. If this condition occurs and you don’t treat it immediately, it can lead to a shutdown of these organs and death. Some of the symptoms of lactic acidosis to be aware of include tiredness, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness and muscle pain, and cramps. Other symptoms can include stomach pain and discomfort and problems breathing.
If you do combine alcohol and metformin and you show signs of lactic acidosis, it’s important to get emergency treatment.
While the potential of lactic acidosis is one of the biggest risks of alcohol and metformin, there are other reasons not to combine the two substances as well.
It’s not a good idea to drink alcohol with diabetes in general because it can lower your blood sugar levels. You may be able to have a drink and be okay, but any more than that can become risky.
Alcohol with metformin side effects can also include hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar, and your risk of having this happen when you’re drinking and taking metformin are higher than if you’re just taking metformin. Some of the signs of hypoglycemia include dizziness, confusion, and drowsiness.
Finally, there are some general symptoms of metformin that can be exacerbated by the use of alcohol. Some of the side effects of metformin that may be worse with alcohol can include stomach pain and discomfort, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, gas, sour stomach and indigestion or heartburn.
Even if lactic acidosis doesn’t occur, there are other risks of alcohol and metformin including increased side effects of the medicine, and hypoglycemia.
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