Glucophage is a drug used mainly in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. People suffering from type 2 diabetes typically have three times the normal rate of glucose production in the liver.
The active ingredient in Glucophage is metformin. Metformin is not only supplied as Glucophage, other formulations are Fortamet, Glucophage XR, Glumetza and Riomet.
It works by controlling the blood glucose within a normal range. More specifically it suppresses glucose production in the liver. Research has shown that treatment with Glucophage can reduce glucose production by over one-third.
Glucophage (Metformin) has been used to treat other conditions especially when they may involve insulin resistance. It has been used in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome. This is quite a common condition that affects women. The condition normally involves cysts in the ovaries, ovaries not releasing eggs regularly and also high levels of male hormones in the body. It is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol levels.
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Side effects of Glucophage are mainly gastrointestinal related and include diarrhea, stomach cramps, flatulence and vomiting. Varying the dose can counter or reduce these problems. Starting with a low dose of 1.0 to 1.7 grams per day and then slowing increasing the dose as the side effects are reduced or are not experienced any more. A more harmful although less common side effect is lactic acidosis. This is a build up of lactate/lactic acid in the blood which can be fatal if not treated. Mild symptoms of lactic acidosis include muscle pains/weakness, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, numbness or cold sensation in the arms or legs and an irregular heart rate. More serious side effects are shortness of breath with mild exertion, fever/body aches/flu like symptoms and swelling/increased weight gain.
Glucophage should not be taken if suffering from liver disease or heart disease.
Glucophage (Generic Metformin) 500 mg, 850 mg and 1000 mg in Australia
Glucophage is available in doses of 500 mg, 850 mg and 1000 mg. Glucophage XR (extended release) is available in 500 mg and 750 mg. The varying dosages allow health practitioners to tailor the treatment to the individual depending on their tolerance and medical history. The maximum recommended dose of Glucophage is 2550 mg in adults and 2000 mg for children between 10 to 16 years of age. For Glucophage XR the maximum recommended dosage is 2000 mg in adults. Glucophage can be taken up to three times a day with meals. Glucophage XR is typically taken daily with evening meals.
There is some evidence that metformin can reduce cholesterol levels which in turn can lead to minor weight loss in some people. Some research has suggested that metformin can prevent the heart related complications associated with diabetes but this is an area which may need more investigation.