Metformin and alcohol consumption

If you have diabetes, you might be wondering whether you can take metformin tablets and alcohol together. Just like other medications which interact with other substances, the drug can interact with alcohol, leading to harmful effects. Therefore, if you are taking alcohol you should inform your doctor before they prescribe you to take metformin. Using this drug and alcohol together can result in adverse effects such as lactic acidosis and hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a condition characterized by extremely low blood sugar levels. You may experience symptoms such as dizziness, confusion and drowsiness. It is important you inform people you are drinking with that you are diabetic. They may help to watch out for these symptoms. If people around you notice these symptoms of hypoglycemia, you should stop drinking immediately. You may be required to use a glucagon emergency kit in case you are experiencing severe hypoglycemia. Excessive consumption of alcohol while you are using this medicine may lead to a build up of lactic acid in the blood. This may damage vital organs, including blood vessels, lungs, kidneys, and the heart. If lactic acidosis is left untreated, it could cause your organs to shut down which may result in death. If you notice any symptoms of lactic acidosis while taking the medication and alcohol you should visit an emergency room immediately. Lactic acidosis is an emergency condition.

Symptoms of lactic acidosis include:

  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling cold
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Weakness
  • Severe muscle pain

As you can see, the interaction between metformin and alcohol can be harmful or even severe. However, that does not always mean you cannot drink alcohol while taking this drug. Speak to your doctor before drinking alcohol while taking metforming. Alcohol normally affects people differently, hence it is important you talk to your doctor to find out whether it is safe for you. Your doctor understands your medical history. Therefore, they can know if taking this medication and alcohol together is safe for you or not. If your doctor tells you it is safe to take alcohol with this medicine, you should aim to drink moderately.

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Doctor’s Recommendation

Complete abstinence from alcohol is the best approach, especially for individuals with diabetes. Alcohol and smoking have more harmful effects on those with diabetes compared to the general population. Although it was once believed that drinking a glass of wine a day offered health benefits, proper statistical analysis has shown that this is not the case. Many truly ill individuals, such as those with active Crohn’s disease, cannot consume alcohol, skewing earlier perceptions. The current consensus is that alcohol does not provide any health benefits.

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.