How to stop diabetes drug metformin safely

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Metformin is a cornerstone in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, renowned for its effectiveness in lowering blood sugar levels and its relatively low risk of causing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) compared to other diabetes medications.

However, there may come a time when stopping metformin is considered, whether due to side effects, a change in treatment strategy, or specific health conditions that make its use inappropriate.

This review aims to demystify the process of stopping metformin, discussing potential side effects, risks, and the safest way to discontinue its use.

Understanding Metformin

Metformin works by improving the sensitivity of your body’s tissues to insulin, thereby facilitating more effective blood sugar management. It also decreases glucose production in the liver.

For many, it’s a part of daily life, but like any medication, it’s not suitable for everyone. Certain side effects like gastrointestinal upset are common, and in rare cases, it can lead to more serious conditions such as lactic acidosis, especially in individuals with kidney problems.

Why Stop Metformin?

The decision to stop taking metformin can stem from various reasons. Some individuals experience persistent side effects that affect their quality of life.

Others may achieve significant blood sugar control through lifestyle changes or may need to switch to a different medication due to changes in their health status.

Additionally, metformin is contraindicated in patients with severe kidney issues, certain heart diseases, and before some medical procedures requiring contrast dyes due to the risk of lactic acidosis.

Potential Side Effects of Stopping

When considering stopping metformin, it’s crucial to understand the potential effects. The most immediate concern is the potential for blood sugar levels to rise.

If metformin is stopped abruptly without a suitable alternative or adjustments in lifestyle, it may lead to uncontrolled diabetes, increasing the risk of complications associated with high blood sugar levels, such as nerve damage, vision problems, and heart disease.

How to Stop Safely

The key to stopping metformin safely involves careful planning and consultation with a healthcare professional. Here are some steps and considerations:

  • Consult Your Doctor: Never stop taking metformin without first discussing it with your healthcare provider. They can provide guidance on the timing and the process, considering your specific health situation.
  • Gradual Reduction: In some cases, your doctor may recommend gradually reducing the dose of metformin rather than stopping it outright, to minimize the risk of your blood sugar levels rising sharply.
  • Monitor Blood Sugar Levels: It’s essential to monitor your blood sugar levels more closely during and after the process of stopping metformin. This monitoring will help ensure that any increases in blood sugar are promptly addressed.
  • Alternative Medications or Strategies: Your healthcare provider may suggest alternative medications or adjustments in other diabetes medications to compensate for the discontinuation of metformin. In cases where lifestyle changes have led to the decision to stop metformin, continuing those healthy habits is crucial.
  • Regular Follow-Up: Regular follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider are important to assess how stopping metformin is impacting your diabetes control and overall health.


Stopping metformin can be a necessary step for some individuals managing type 2 diabetes, but it should always be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

By understanding the potential risks and following a carefully planned process, you can ensure a smooth transition and maintain effective control of your blood sugar levels.

Remember, the goal of diabetes treatment is to support a healthy, active life, and sometimes, treatment strategies need to be adjusted to best meet that goal.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about Widely prescribed drug may increase sudden cardiac arrest risk in people with diabetes and the findings of These common drugs linked to sudden cardiac arrest in people with type 2 diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies that low calorie diets may help reverse diabetes, and 5 vitamins that may prevent complication in diabetes.

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