Metformin And Alcohol: Risky Or Not? Comprehensive Answers

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Metformin, the first-line medicine for Type 2 diabetes, has been prescribed to more than 120 billion people. One of the most asked questions regarding its intake is whether it is safe to take Metformin and alcohol together. Literally, more than half of the people consuming Metformin have come up with this question.  Well, the answer is both a yes and a no.

It is okay to consume one standard drink if you are a woman and two standard drinks if you are a man. Too much alcohol consumption, especially the ones with high sugar and carbs, can lead to major complication and issues. Through this article, you will come to know about the risks induced by the interactivity of Metformin and alcohol, safety measures you must know, the complications, and so on.

What is Metformin?

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Before talking about Metformin and alcohol together, it is important to know why Metformin is used. As mentioned earlier, Metformin is an oral first-line medication for Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition in which our body doesn’t produce enough insulin, resulting in high glucose levels in the bloodstream. Type 2 diabetes runs in families and so is a genetic condition. It can also be caused due to bad lifestyle influences and decisions.

Metformin is often prescribed along with insulin to maintain sugar levels. However, it is always advisable to consume Metformin along with a healthy and conscious diet and workout regime. The medicine is first tested by consuming 500 mg of it once a day following the end meal of the day. If the reactions are convincing, then another 500 mg is prescribed to be taken once a day with breakfast

It is not only used in treating Type 2 diabetes but also is used in treating PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) as well. Women with PCOS tend to develop higher blood glucose levels in their bloodstream. So, Metformin is often prescribed by doctors. It also helps in the restoration of ovulation, reducing androgen levels, and so on.

Metformin and Alcohol: The Interactivity

Binge drinking alcohol can only lead to harm. The intensity of this harm increases if you are under medication, especially under the influence of a drug like Metformin. When consumed in more than prescribed quantities (that is, not more than 2 servings a day), excess buildup of lactic acid occurs, leading to various other long term discomforts. Below are the associated risks and the side effects involved in the reaction of Metformin and alcohol.

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Risks Involved In The Interaction Of Metformin And Alcohol

Lactic Acidosis

As mentioned above, consuming too much alcohol while taking Metformin can cause a buildup of lactic acid in our bodies. Lactic acidosis is a metabolic condition in which the body overproduces lactic acid and is not able to cope up with this excessive production. 

It can also be due to improper utilization/underutilization of lactic acid. Excessive buildup of lactic acid causes immense damage to a person’s liver and kidney as they are unable to remove such huge amounts of the acid from the system.

The chances of developing this condition during the intake of Metformin is usually rare but with the intervention of alcohol, especially the ones rich in calories and sugar, the chances are higher. Lactic acidosis may sound less dangerous but can be life threatening. The common symptoms include 

  • Gut pain
  • Insomnia 
  • Changes in heartbeat
  • ‘Loss of appetite
  • Constant dizziness
  • Changes in breathing pattern and swallowing
  • Vomiting and nausea

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is one of the most important water-soluble vitamins which play a vital role in metabolism. They are very important to maintain a healthy bloodstream and nerve cells. It is found abundantly in dairy products, eggs, and meat and also in vegetables like beans, Brussel sprouts, peas, and so on.

It is common to be afflicted with this deficiency while intaking Metformin. However, consumption of Metformin and alcohol together worsens the condition and could lead to metabolism-related ailments. The common symptoms include numbness in hands and feet, memory loss, headache, anemia, and so on.

Hypoglycemia

We all know that Metformin helps in reducing blood sugar levels. However, if the dosage increases, it causes hypoglycemia, which literally means low blood sugar. So, quantity in moderation is everything.

Occasionally, Metformin induced low blood sugar can occur due to consumption of alcohol. The reason why you shouldn’t consume Metformin and alcohol together is that the symptoms of hypoglycemia are confused due to the consumption of alcohol. In simpler words, you may not recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia if you are drinking alcohol.

The common symptoms of hypoglycemia include dizziness, headache, and hyperphagia (excessive hunger). The life threatening symptoms of it include 

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nightmares
  • Increased heartbeats
  • Foggy vision
  • Lack of concentration 
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Pale skin

Cardiovascular risks

Consumption of Metformin can have negative effects on cardiovascular diseases. But recent studies have shown that the intervention of alcohol makes the chances and the risks involved even higher.

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Things You Should Know Before Taking Metformin

  • Make sure you follow a proper diet and workout regime. Poor diets with Metformin intakes can worsen the current condition and could lead to life threatening situations.
  • Initially, low doses are prescribed. If you tolerate that dosage, doctors may prefer higher dosages.
  • If you face any discomforts like skin rashes, shortness of breath, swelling up of face and hands after taking the first dose, just run to your doctor! It doesn’t suit each and everybody and might cause severe allergic reactions.
  • Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the course of the medication.
  • If you are expecting a baby, you are trying or if you are a lactating mother, make sure you tell your doctor beforehand. It might affect the fetus and the mother in certain cases.

The Bottom Line | Metformin and Alcohol

There aren’t any great blessings like the blessing of good health. As everyone says “Health is Wealth”. Always remember that Metformin and alcohol can never be good friends. If you really crave a drink, always remember the potion (not more than one serving a day for women and 2 servings for men). Indulge in more physical activities while making sure they are less strenuous. 

Hope you came to know about the risks involved in the Metformin and alcohol reaction, the safety measures, and so on, through this article. Feel free to clarify your queries through the Comments below. Interesting facts about metformin and alcohol intervention are welcomed as well.

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