Thinking Metformin brought on symptoms

By New2type2 Latest Reply 2013-12-01 16:28:19 -0600
Started 2013-09-02 16:04:52 -0500

Hi all! Just joined. Diagnosed with type two a few weeks ago. Began using my meter right away but didn't start Metformin until a few days ago. Readings usually between 90 and 127 so have been a little slow taking in the reality of the diagnosis. Hit 169 just once, after a cinnamon roll and coffee for breakfast (I know). I was told not to skip meals once I started taking the meds so today I did have breakfast but then around lunchtime I got so shaky and weak I was certain I was going to black out. I slammed a cold leftover hamburger patty and piece of lettuce (that was all I could find quickly). Could hardly walk to the fridge to get it and was unable to prepare anything else. Am fine now but still a little dinged and trembley. Good grief! I've gotten weak from missing a meal in the past but nothing like that! About 20 minutes after eating I used my meter and it read 78 (not too bad). Know I have a lot to learn but am guessing the Metformin is what brought that on. Not certain. Scared the blazes out of me.

37 replies

pinman 2013-09-12 16:45:52 -0500 Report

I'm pretty new (Feb.2013) to this and seem to have the opposite from most of you except Jim. I have to take my Metformin at night when I go to bed and my fasting is still 150-160. I had a lot of nausea and trouble eating anything when I started my meds but taking it at night ended all that. I make sure I eat every 2 hrs too. It helps a lot.Celery and peanut butter are my favorite. I have to really focus on protein slow release carbs and veggies. If I don't watch it I can hit 250 easy. That seems to be my trigger number I get an intense headache and the shakes. Getting it down sometimes is hard but I keep turkey jerky with me all the time and protein bars. Good luck!

ohneclue 2013-09-12 11:53:13 -0500 Report

Couple of things — Metformin didn't "cause" the problem but not having a good choice when your sugar is too low is NOT a hamburger.
I've had some problems with low blood sugar but it was caused by my lazy liver deciding to wake up. I took my meds that work just fine for me, my liver decided to wake up and then, because my liver was doing its job on an irregular schedule, I had low blood sugar.
You need a quicker source of sugar like a candy mint or as someone suggested, Skittles. And, yes, you should not skip meals once you start diabetic meds. You didn't say what your other breakfast was — in order to keep a good sugar level up from breakfast to lunch without getting shaky is to have it be more protein and fat rather than carbs like your cinnamon roll and coffee choice you know was not good.
We both like scrambled eggs with a little cheese and some Turkey bacon plus sliced onions or lots of green onions and sweet red peppers. Keeps us all morning long. I'm the diabetic but hubby's in it for the food.

DarcyM17 2013-09-10 18:39:18 -0500 Report

Don't eat a burger when your sugar gets low like that. You need carbs. I always carry fun size skittles in my purse with me. When your sugar drops below 70 eat 15 grams of carbs. wait 20 minutes then test again if it is still low eat 15 more grams but don't exceed that

Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards 2013-09-09 11:36:00 -0500 Report

I wish my highs only went to 169. Heck, I would take 169 as a normal!

correctionsnurse1 2013-11-29 10:22:44 -0600 Report

Me too Jim! But I'm glad to report I'm doing much better after going off the Byetta and started Novolog SS. I'm still taking 60 of Lantus at HS and 1000mg of Metformin 2x's daily. Hope your doing well and had a blessed Thanksgiving.

Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards 2013-12-01 16:25:48 -0600 Report

I think from my doctors facial reaction, I must be off the charts. My normal day (oh wait, I left normal behind 5 years ago) I take 70 units of 70/30 in the AM and 70 in the PM. If my night time sugars are high I use 30-60 units of R. If I am active, like during the day, the R kicks in fast and drops it fast, so I am still experimenting with that.

ClaudiaCortez 2013-09-10 11:42:42 -0500 Report

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New2type2 2013-09-09 15:33:44 -0500 Report

Thanks Jim. Sounds like so many have much more of a problem with their diabetes than I do. If I've ever gone over 169, am not aware of it. Sometimes still wonder if I really need the meds. Maybe I'm just being a wishful thinker. Definitely worry about second guessing the Doc but even the literature she gave me says between 90 and 140 is fine. And my readings are almost constantly within that range.

Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards 2013-09-10 11:10:33 -0500 Report

Me, I am always willing to experiment with myself. I would decrese my Metformin to half and see how my numbers were. If they stayed between the 90 and 140, I would discontinue it and monitor it. I figure any med I intoduce to my body has potential reprocussions. I fear low blood sugar more than high. I know the high does long term damage, but the low's (below 80 for me) can make me unfunctional as in I have to think in mini steps in order to do what I need to do to correct it. The problem is that I still over correct as in 8oz of Coke instead of 4.

New2type2 2013-09-10 13:12:29 -0500 Report

Pretty sure they have 6 oz cans of Coke (I know that Pepsi has them). It would be hard to make yourself waste the balance of a full can of coke. Take care Jim.

Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards 2013-09-10 13:23:14 -0500 Report

There are "caps" for the cans, I am thinking it might be Crystal Light caps that fit. Flat coke will work okay too, it just does not get into your system as fast because of no carbonation. Of course, you can get Coke in reseable bottles too. Being the cheapee that I am I bought a 2 liter for $1.29 (the 1 liter was $1.59!). It defizzed in less than 8 months, but it still worked!

One Step at a Time
One Step at a Time 2013-09-05 16:15:13 -0500 Report

When you're low, you need a carb- not a burger and lettuce. A swig of OJ or Gatorade will bring me right back. But pure protein like that won't help much. I keep Gatorade energy chews in the cabinet. 3 chews=15 carbs.

New2type2 2013-09-10 13:33:08 -0500 Report

Thanks One step. Going to Walgreens to see if I can find some Gatorade energy chews. They sound like something I can easily carry in my purse. Don't intend to let myself get into that situation EVER again!

IronOre 2013-09-08 13:48:15 -0500 Report

You are right, a burger and lettuce does vitrtually nothing to bring up ones blood sugar ~ liquid carbs is the best to bring it up quickly

cowboyslbug 2013-09-05 15:30:24 -0500 Report

I detest metaformin. Never had good results with it. Asked my doctor for alternative. glyburide has been my best friend since then. It's used in combination with another medication. I have had several changes to the partner medication over the years due to FDA recalls but never had an issue with glyburide.

Pengomama 2013-09-05 11:54:19 -0500 Report

I have to take my Metformin at night when i go to bed. It is supposed to work slower and then i don't have the side effects. I also have to snack on things between meals. Nuts, trail mix kinda stuff help a lot. I tend to eat apples a lot. Good luck to you and let us know how you are doing. Sherry

New2type2 2013-09-04 20:23:37 -0500 Report

Thanks all. I want you to know I appreciate your comments and advise. Have learned quite a bit from this website . Am glad I joined…am already feeling more confident about figuring this out. You are all GREAT!

Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards 2013-09-04 17:55:21 -0500 Report

Remember the purpose of Metformin is primarily to lower your blood sugar. Always take it with food and for me, especially if it is hot out, I test myself about once an hour for 5-6 hours. It can drop my BS by 60+ sometimes. Also, when low, 4 oz of Coke (the kind you drink LOL) will stabilze you fairly quickly. 8 oz is almost an overdose and 12 oz and your first # on your meter may be a 3!

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-09-04 12:59:49 -0500 Report

The metformin would cause this if you took it while your blood sugar was low. My doctor recommended that I take it after dinner. If you just started taking the metformin for the first time that day, it wouldn't have caused the problem because it takes time for it to get in your system.

You cannot skip meals. if you are not going to be able to eat a meal until later than you would normally eat, you have to eat a snack. Yogurt, nuts, raw veggies, cheese and crackers will help keep you going. I keep Level Life in the house and with me at all times because it is fast acting glucose.

I love cinnamon rolls. Had one with coffee this morning then walked several blocks and came home and ate a boiled egg. Blood sugar was fine after testing. This isn't something I eat everyday so it was my treat for the day.

New2type2 2013-09-04 20:18:01 -0500 Report

Actually it is rare for me to eat cinnamon rolls or any pastries either because they aren't really one of my weaknesses. But they sure smell good if there is one sitting on the counter calling your name. It's good to hear that you were able to eat one a basically walk it off.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-09-04 20:46:47 -0500 Report

If I had not gone for a walk an hour after I ate it, I would have been high. I agree sometimes it can be hard to resist something that smells good and is calling your name. I learn to ignore it.

Saturday I got up and ate breakfast then headed out to a Bead Show. I lost track of time and started getting shaky so I went to the car and got two of my sisters cookies. That helped and I went back to shopping. As we were leaving 90 minutes later I was getting shaky again. Thankfully, I was going to my cousins for a birthday party. By the time I arrived, I was getting shaky so I ate something that had no carbs so I ended up eating a small piece of birthday cake. I waited and that was working fast enough so I drank one of the kids juice boxes and that started working. I changed purses and forgot to put my Level Life in the purse. That won't happen again. Had I not been in a hurry, I would have noticed I didn't have it.

The first time I got real low scared me. I learned that once you get scared, that makes the low feel even worse. Now I don't let it bother me in that way. I just go grab something with carbs and eat it. The first time I sipped less than a jigger of juice and it shot my blood sugar up. My doctor told me to stay away from juice. That is the one thing I really miss.

John Crowley
John Crowley 2013-09-04 10:55:17 -0500 Report

First of all, welcome to Diabetic Connect.

I'm sorry for your frightening experience feeling shaky. That's no fun at all. Your blood sugars have been pretty good if they're staying below 127. So there is a chance that Metformin perhaps caused you to drop low. That's something you should call and talk to your doctor about.

The one thing I wanted to address was what you chose to treat your low blood sugar with. I know you said that all you could find was a hamburger patty and some lettuce. But those items contain essentially zero carbs. And when your blood sugar is low, what you need is carbs. You should always start with 15g of some quickly absorbing carbs (like juice or glucose tabs). Then wait 15 minutes, test your blood sugar and see if you're still low. If so, take 15g of carbs again and wait another 15 minutes.

If you had been having a real serious low (not very likely on Metformin, much more likely for those on insulin), the hamburger and lettuce would have done nothing to help you recover.

You probably know all this. But as you're new to diabetes, I thought it might be worth pointing out just in case.

correctionsnurse1 2013-11-29 10:33:26 -0600 Report

I agree with John…Metformin is used to stabilize blood sugar and should not (but everyone is different) cause a significant drop unless you skip a meal or do not consume enough and are pretty active. Hope this helps and welcome to Diabetic Connect!

Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards 2013-12-01 16:28:19 -0600 Report

You are right on target as far as I am concerned. I had taken my boatload of morning meds, including metformin with the intention of eating breakfast at work 30 minutes later. Glad I had those mints in my center console!

bradley13 2013-09-03 20:22:29 -0500 Report

Hey I thought the same thing at first, but that changed when I remembered how I felt before the doc told be I hade type 2. Time I was weak and slow for no reason then normal give your system to adjust man.

txgeorge 2013-09-02 17:41:29 -0500 Report

Oh, and not sure if you know, regular timing for testing after meals is 2 hours after you BEGIN eating. Unless directed otherwise by your doctor. The more you test now, the better info you will have to give to your doctor on your next visit (bring your machine and log book). Will also help you understand how you feel and why. Good times to test - wake up. Before meals. 2 hours after start if meal. Before bed. (Should check it out around 3am a few times too. Tends to spike around this time). Also get at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly.

New2type2 2013-09-03 10:25:41 -0500 Report

Thanks for the info tx. Actually, I didn't know the preferred timing for testing…just remembered hearing twice a day after meals. Still not sure the met didn't cause that hypoglycemic (that's the word I was looking for) incident though. Am notorious for having reactions to even baby doses of meds. Not planning to quit taking it at this point. Will try your suggestions.

Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards 2013-09-10 11:38:30 -0500 Report

Everyday I test upon rising and before I go to sleep. The rest of the day depends. If my morning BS was good I may end up doing a curiousity test in the afternoon. When camp is in full gear, I often test before lunch (to determine how much camp carbs I can consume), about 1-2 hours after lunch to see how good my choices were then again about 3 or 4 to make sure things are steady. I also test for certain foods. Example in the beginning I wondered how pizza effected my BS. One piece is usually okay, 3-4 pieces, my usual serving is a disaster as in BS over 300 even 2 hours after. My Mom usually ends up taking half of the suggested dose of most meds because she responds to the lower doses and the suggested dose makes her sick.

txgeorge 2013-09-03 14:38:27 -0500 Report

Very important to coordinate all with your doc. Let him/her know if you continue to experience this so you can decide together how to proceed. Good luck

txgeorge 2013-09-02 17:35:24 -0500 Report

Unlikely. It usually takes a couple if weeks minimum for meds to kick in. Cinnamon rolls. Not really a good idea. Can't go from breakfast to lunch with nothing in between. If able, eat 6 small meals instead of 3. At the very least, have a small snack (low carb) between meals. DON'T stop the meds.

Jim Edwards
Jim Edwards 2013-09-10 11:32:47 -0500 Report

The very first time I took metformin my sugar dropped by over 150 points within about 2 hours. this amount of drop is/was not normal for me. but like everything else, we are all different. I think it depends on the med and on the person taking the meds. Example, if pain meds took a couple of weeks to kick in, we would not bother taking them! On the other hand, meds like anit-depressants can take 4-6 weeks to get settled in one's system and 3-4 weeks to get out.