What are Biguanides?

Biguanides refer to a class of diabetes medications used to treat people with type 2 diabetes. These medications work by preventing glucose production in the liver. This process helps the body become more sensitive toward the hormone insulin and reduces the concentration of sugar that goes into the intestines. The only available biguanide in most countries today is Metformin. 

What are the benefits of Biguanides?

Biguanides reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • Aside from lowering blood sugar, Biguanides also lower bad cholesterol levels in the blood. This process lessens someone’s chances of getting cardiovascular disease.

Biguanides promote weight loss.

  • One of the triggering factors of type 2 diabetes is obesity. This condition can eventually lead to insulin resistance, which is the main cause of type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, treatment with biguanide can promote weight loss and limit obesity.

What are Biguanides available today?

Biguanides are available in both generic and branded names. However, only one is accessible and widely used in most countries – Metformin.

Metformin is an anti-diabetes medicine used to lower high blood sugar levels. It is used in combination with a proper diet and regular exercise. This medicine works efficiently in improving insulin sensitivity. It prevents diabetes attacks by stabilizing the body’s blood sugar levels.

Like other forms of Biguanides, Metformin also has its fair share of precautions and warnings. One of these warnings includes hypersensitivity to the medicine. If you have type 2 diabetes and you are allergic to this medicine, avoid using it. Your healthcare professional will most likely prescribe you another form of oral diabetes medicine.

Additionally, to ensure that Metformin is safe to consume, tell your healthcare professional if you have a history of the following conditions:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Congestive heart failure

In terms of its dosage, the initial dose prescribed is 500 mg. You need to take this dose orally twice a day. If maintenance dosage is necessary, take 2000 mg per day in divided doses.

One of the major side effects of taking Biguanide is hypoglycemia. This condition refers to low blood sugar levels. Its symptoms can include dizziness, irritability, confusion, anxiety, increased hunger, and shakiness. If you experience these symptoms after taking Metformin, consume any food rich in sugar. However, this is only your first aid.

Your healthcare professional may also likely prescribe a glucagon injection kit together with Metformin. This kit will help you in severe cases of hypoglycemia. Ask your healthcare professional on how to use it or teach your family or friends in case of an emergency.

What are other forms of Biguanides? Consider the following:

  • Phenformin
  • Buformin

What are the side effects of Biguanides?

Common side effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomachache
  • Belching
  • Dry mouth
  • Gas
  • Muscle pain
  • Dyspepsia
  • Heartburn

Rare/Severe side effects:

  • Sweating
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Blurry vision
  • Tingling
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling
  • Bloody urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Dizziness

Signs of UTI (urinary tract infection)