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What is Metformin Hydrochloride (HCL) Used For? Side Effects and Dosage

What is Metformin Hydrochloride (HCL) Used For?: Side Effects & Dosage

What is Metformin hydrochloride (HCL) used for?

Metformin hydrochloride is mainly indicated for the treatment of type II diabetes. This diabetes drug is especially useful in patients who fail to achieve satisfactory glycemic control through exercise or dietary modifications. For adult patients, the drug can be used alone as a monotherapy or in conjunction with insulin or other oral hypoglycemic agents. For pediatric patients of more than 10 years of age, this drug can also be used in combination with insulin, or as a monotherapy. Metformin HCL is supplied in various dosage strengths, which are 500mg, 850mg and 1000mg.

Metformin hydrochloride dosage

For adult patients, take 500mg of metformin 2 times a day (or 850mg once daily) initially. Then, increase the dose by 500mg every week or by 850mg every 2 weeks, as tolerated. For maintenance, use 200mg of metformin hydrochloride in split doses. Do not exceed the maximum daily dose of 2550mg.
For pediatric patients of more than 10 years of age, use an initial dose of 500mg 2 times per day. Then, increase the dose by 500mg every week, as tolerated. Do not exceed the maximum daily dose of 2,000mg. Please note that this dosing schedule applies only to the immediate-release formulation.

Side effects

Common side effects of metformin HCL include:

  • upset stomach,
  • nausea,
  • diarrhea.

Being self-limiting in nature, these symptoms will disappear after stopping the treatment. You may take the medicine with meals to decrease the side effects. Metformin hydrochloride is also known to cause a metallic taste in the mouth. However, this symptom is short-lived and will eventually resolve itself. The drug seldom leads to low blood sugar; however, hypoglycemic symptoms may occur if you use other anti-hyperglycemic agents concomitantly with metformin. You may also experience hypoglycemia if you consume alcohol or do not eat enough. Talk to your doctor if side effects persist or worsen. The doctor may need to lower the dose or stop the treatment entirely.

Additionally, this medication has a small risk of causing lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis is characterized by the accumulation of lactic acid in the blood.

Some of the common symptoms of lactic acidosis include:

  • irregular or slow heartbeat,
  • lightheadedness or dizziness,
  • feeling cold,
  • unexpected or unusual stomach discomfort,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • pain in the muscles,
  • general weakness and tiredness.

This side effect has an incidence rate of about 1 per 33,000 people. Although it rarely occurs, lactic acidosis can potentially be fatal. In fact, lactic acidosis is life-threatening in almost 50% of the patients who are diagnosed with the condition. Patients who have renal impairment are generally at a higher risk of developing lactic acidosis. Hepatic impairment can also increase your risk of getting the condition. Keep in mind that lactic acidosis is a serious condition that requires emergency medical care. Stop taking metformin and go to the hospital immediately if there is any sign of lactic acidosis.


Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.
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