Side effects of Metformin and Ways to Stop It

Metformin is a common medication for treating type 2 diabetes. It helps to control the blood sugar in the body. You can find it in the tablet form or liquid that you can take with meals. 

If you are taking metformin to treat type 2 diabetes then it is possible to stop the medication but before you do that you should consult your doctor to make sure if that is the right step for you. You can control your condition by making changes to your lifestyle, diet and exercise routine. 

Metformin does not treat the cause of diabetes but it treats the symptoms by controlling the blood sugar levels in your body. It does this in the following ways:

  • decreases glucose production in the liver
  • reduces the absorption of glucose from the gut
  • improves the insulin sensitivity in peripheral tissues and the use of glucose

This medication also helps with other things like:

  • lowers lipids to decrease the blood triglyceride levels
  • decreases low-density lipoprotein cholesterol
  • increases high-density lipoprotein cholesterol
  • reduces your appetite that helps to lose weight

Side Effects and Risks of Metformin

Metformin has side effects and certain risks due to which it is not a safe medication for a lot of people. The doctor will not recommend this medication if you have any of the below:

  • liver disease
  • kidney issues
  • heart problems
  • substance use disorder

Common side effects of metformin

The most common side effects of this medication are headaches and digestive problems that may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Metallic taste
  • Loss of appetite

Other side effects

In some of the people, metformin does not properly absorb the vitamin B-12. This leads to the deficiency of vitamin B-12 but this is caused in the long run. Just to be on the safe side, your doctor will check your B-12 levels every 1 – 2 years while you are taking metformin. It can make you lose your appetite. This will lead to weight loss.

There are few other side effects caused by this medication.


Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can be caused because the metformin lowers the blood glucose levels in the body. So, it is important to keep checking your blood sugar levels now and then and your doctor will change your dosage depending on your levels. 

This is a rare side effect caused by metformin. The chances of low blood sugar are high when you take metformin with other diabetic drugs. 

Lactic acidosis

Lactic acidosis is a life-threatening condition that is caused by metformin. In this condition, the lactic acid builds up in the blood. In case this happens, you should not take metformin. 

This condition is fatal but rare. The chances of this condition are 1 in 100,000 people who are taking metformin. 

This condition is likely to occur in people with kidney diseases. 

When can you stop metformin?

Metformin is an important medication for treating diabetes. It is safe to lower the dosage of metformin or stop it if your diabetes is in control. If you wish to stop this medication then you should consult your doctor and talk about what steps you can take to stop it.

People with diabetes can control t by making changes to their lifestyle, diet plan, and exercise routine. If you can reduce the blood glucose in these ways then you can stop taking metformin or other diabetic drugs. 

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are certain criteria that you need to meet if you are looking forward to stopping the diabetes medication.

  • Your A1C is lower than 7%
  • Your fasting morning blood glucose level is below 130 mg/dL
  • Your blood glucose levels in general or after having a meal is under 180 mg/dL

These criteria change with age, health and other factors. It is risky to stop metformin if the above criteria are not meeting. You should always consult a doctor before making any changes in the metformin plan. 

What you can do?

Metformin has chances of helping your long-term health complications that are caused by type-2 diabetes. But if your blood glucose levels seem to be in control and your doctor thinks its right to stop the medication, you can stop taking it.

You can lower the blood glucose without taking any medication by making the below changes in your lifestyle:

  • proper exercise routine
  • maintaining weight
  • reducing the carb intake
  • making changes in your diet plan 
  • cutting off tobacco of all forms
  • consumption of less or no alcohol