We explore the Side Effects of Metformin and Diabetes-related hair loss:
If you have found out that you might be at risk of diabetes, perhaps diagnosed with insulin resistance, or you have full-blown type 2 diabetes – then you probably know what Metformin is.
Even though Metformin does seem to yield great results in the average person at risk or already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, there are side-effects that may occur when using the drug.
You need to know what to expect when your doctor tells you to take Metformin – and that’s exactly what we will be discussing today.
We’ll take a look at some possible side-effects of Metformin, and, in particular, look at whether Metformin could be contributing to hair loss.
We will also consider underlying factors that may also contribute to hair loss that are not directly associated with Metformin itself.
Type 2 diabetes is a common disease. It is also a chronic disease that is linked to lifelong effects on many people who are diagnosed with the condition.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that causes problems with the way that the body responds to insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas.
The condition also leads to problems with the way that cell respond to the presence of insulin – causing more glucose to be left behind in the blood circulatory system instead of entering cells as a fuel for energy.
Even though this disease tends to start out slowly and leads to damage gradually, type 2 diabetes has devastating effects on the human body.
In fact, many people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will die at a premature age.
This is not the case with everyone, however.
There are also many people with type 2 diabetes that are able to control the disease effectively, keep their blood sugar levels in check, and extend their lifespan.
The major problem now is that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is at an alarmingly high rate.
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that about one in every 10 American citizens has already developed type 2 diabetes. This accounts for over 30 million individuals in the country – not even worldwide statistics.
Worldwide, these statistics become even more concerning. According to the latest data released by the World Health Organization, there are now more than 422 million people over the world who have been diagnosed with diabetes. While this includes cases of both type 1 and types two diabetes, the majority of these people do have type 2 diabetes.
There has also been a significant increase in the worldwide prevalence of diabetes. In the year 1980, an estimated 4.7% of the global adult population was affected by the disease. In 2014, the prevalence rose from 4.7% to 8.5%.
There are also a significant number of deaths that are linked to type 2 diabetes each year.
In 2016 alone, it was estimated that at least 1.6 million people over the world died with type 2 diabetes considered a direct cause of these deaths. The statistics were even higher in 2012 when 2.2 million people died due to uncontrolled high blood sugar levels.
- 422 million people have diabetes
- 1.6 million people die each year due to diabetes
There are essentially two different types of diabetes that you can be affected by. The names are relatively simple – type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. The disease is also called diabetes mellitus.
The effects of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are similar in the body, but the reason why they develop and the underlying factors that are at play when a person develops one of the two differs.
Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease.
This means the immune system will go awry and start to attack the tissue in the body that are actually healthy.
When this happens, it can cause problems with the pancreas – the organ that is responsible for producing insulin.
In most cases, a person with type 1 diabetes will be diagnosed with the disease at an early age.
They will need to take medication and follow appropriate instructions provided by a healthcare professional from the time of their diagnosis to avoid early death and suffering other potential complications.
Type 2 diabetes causes similar effects in the body as type 1 diabetes, but this type of disease is not an autoimmune disease
Instead, most people with type 2 diabetes will only be diagnosed with the condition at a later age – and there are many different causes behind the disease.
One of the most important factors that are contributing to the high prevalence of type 2 diabetes is the fact that so many people are living sedentary and unhealthy lives – sitting in front of the television, spending too much time on their phones, eating take-out, and gaining weight.
The majority of cases where a person is diagnosed with this disease accounts for type 2 diabetes. Only a relatively small number of people have type 1 diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone that helps with the transportation of glucose toward the cells that make up the body. The hormone really acts almost like a key to cells.
It helps to open up cells, which then allows these cells to accept the glucose that is circulating through the bloodstream.
When there is a reduction in insulin produced by the pancreas, it means cells will not get this “signal” to open up and accept the glucose that is trying to enter.
This leads to two adverse effects on the body. First, there will be a reduction in the amount of glucose found in cells – this means cells won't be able to use glucose effectively to produce energy. Here, we are not only talking about the energy that you need to get through the day.
Your cells also need adequate fuel or energy to perform specific functions – and many of these functions are critical to your overall well-being and even to human survival.
The second adverse effect is the fact that there will be a constant elevation of glucose circulation through the blood.
High blood glucose levels have been associated with quite a large number of potential adverse effects on the body – fatigue is really the least of your problems, as the long-term effects of a continuous elevation in blood glucose levels can cause nerve damage, heart disease, and even lead to lower extremity amputations.
Types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
When a person is diagnosed with diabetes, then their blood sugar levels need to be controlled. When uncontrolled, the disease can lead to many unpleasant and significantly harmful effects in the body.
There are different strategies that you can use to gain control over their own blood glucose levels. The main one of these is a thorough life-style assessment.
In many cases, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it’s more than likely that lifestyle factors have caused this.
Lifestyle changes become a critical part of gaining back control over the amount of glucose that is circulating through the body.
So you’ll need to limit how much sugar you’re consuming – and this does not only include candy.
There are natural sources of sugar that may also cause a spike in blood glucose levels – this is something that many people with diabetes are not thoroughly aware of, yet a critical factor that comes into play when trying to control levels of blood glucose.
A doctor overseeing the care and management of the person’s diabetes will usually also advise the implementation of an exercise plan, as this has been shown effective in reducing the effects of diabetes on the body.
One study in the Journal of Clinical Medicine Research explains that exercise therapy is actually one of the most critical parts in the management of diabetes. The study notes that patients who are pre-diabetic should already implement exercise into their routine – as this could potentially help to reduce the risk of the person becoming a diabetic patient.
Similarly, if you’ve already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes an exercise plan will yield effective results when it comes to gaining better control over blood glucose levels
The study also notes that those individuals who are not physically active and even those who fall into the category of low physical activity are at least double risk for the development of type 2 diabetes. In cases where the patient had already been diagnosed with the disease, the risk of suffering from more serious complications associated with the disease is significantly increased.
Exercise helps to:
- Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduce the risk of complications
- Prevent pre-diabetes from setting over to type 2 diabetes
There are drugs that have been developed to assist in the management of both the symptoms and the effects that are caused by both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The primary aim here is to assist in the regulation of blood glucose levels – and in patients with high levels of glucose in their bloodstream,
the goal is to reduce these to a level that is closer to what is considered normal.
Insulin is the primary treatment for people with type 1 diabetes, as this provides the body with a dose of the hormone that is responsible for regulating the distribution of glucose in the body. With type 2 diabetes, most people will first start treatment with pharmaceutical drugs, but there are cases where insulin may be provided to these patients as well.
Metformin is a drug that is generally well-tolerated.
It forms an important part of a treatment plan for people who are pre-diabetic,
as well as those who have already been diagnosed with diabetes. The drug may be useful for patients with either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
There are, however, cases where patients have experienced side-effects when they use the drug.
Generally, there are some side-effects that tend to be more common than others.
The majority of the common adverse events that can happen when you take Metformin tend to be mild. While the side-effects may be unpleasant, they are not likely to cause you any harm.
On the other hand, there are some potential side-effects that can be more serious – these are adverse events that you definitely have to be wary of.
So it’s important to recognize the signs of a more serious side-effect and know what type of action you should take to avoid suffering serious complications
Side effects of Metformin can include:
- Upset stomach
- Metallic taste
Most people who experience side-effects when using Metformin will find that nausea is a common side effect.
Nausea can sometimes be accompanied by vomiting – but not everyone who experiences nausea will vomit.
The drug may interact with your digestive system and cause your stomach to feel upset.
Some people may also start to experience diarrhea, especially during the earlier stages of treatment.
There are cases where a person may experience a general feeling of weakness when taking Metformin.
As with the other side-effects, most will find that the weakness tends to go away after the first one to two weeks of taking the drug.
Another unpleasant adverse effect that occurs when taking the drug is a metallic taste
This can cause problems with tasting any other foods that are consumed.
These are all the milder side-effects that have been linked to the use of Metformin.
In addition to understanding these side-effects, it is also critical that every person who takes Metformin knows about some of the more serious adverse events that can occur during the course of treatment.
Serious side-effects of Metformin:
- Lactic Acidosis
- Allergic reaction
One of the most concerning serious side-effects that have been linked to Metformin usage is lactic acidosis. The most common sign that this adverse event is developing would generally be a recurrence of the gastrointestinal symptoms that people tend to experience during the first few weeks of treatment.
The upset stomach and diarrhea side-effects tend to only affect the patient for a few days, sometimes a couple of weeks after they initially start to take Metformin. If these side-effects go away and then reoccur at a later date, then the patient needs to be concerned – this could potentially be a sign that they are experiencing lactic acidosis.
While lactic acidosis can be treated effectively, when a patient fails to gain access to medical treatment for the condition, there may be potentially life-threatening complications that occur.
Symptoms associated with lactic acidosis include breath that has a “fruity” smell, as well as confusion, rapid breathing, trouble breathing, and difficulties swallowing.
Signs of jaundice may also develop, which causes the white areas of the eyes to become yellow. If jaundice does develop it’s also likely that the person’s skin will turn yellow.
The condition occurs when there is a high level of acidity content in blood, as well as other fluids that are present in the patient’s body.
This leads to an imbalance in the patient’s pH level – which means their pH level becomes acidic. This can cause several problems in the body –
which is why it is so essential for the person to recognize signs of the condition and seek out medical treatment immediately to avoid potential complications.
Even though very rare, there is a small number of cases where the use of Metformin has led to hypoglycemia.
This is a term that refers to a significant decline in blood sugar levels – to the point where it becomes a dangerous complication.
While it is dangerous for blood glucose levels to become too high, it is important to note that a good balance in blood sugar is needed. Harmful side-effects can occur when the person has blood sugar levels that fall too low. This may occur when the dose of Metformin provided to the person is too strong.
Signs that the person is experiencing hypoglycemia may include a sudden outbreak of sweating, a tingling sensation in both the hands and the feet, and dizziness.
Some people tend to feel hungry when their blood sugar levels decline too much. There may also be additional symptoms, such as a fast and rapid heartbeat, the person may start to shake, and they may experience sudden blurry vision.
When the dose of Metformin is too low, then hyperglycemia may occur instead. This is when blood sugar levels become too high – which can also be dangerous and potentialy even life-threatening.
Signs that the person is experiencing hyperglycemia include an increase in urination, flushing, a fruity odor to their breath, and rapid breathing. Some people tend to become confused and experience drowsiness when their blood sugar levels rise too high.
An allergic reaction has been noted in rare cases. While this happens in only a very small number of cases, it is still something that every person who takes Metformin needs to be aware of.
Signs of an allergic reaction experienced to the active chemicals in Metformin include breathing difficulty, a rash, itching, and severe dizziness. There may also be swelling in the throat and tongue. As the allergic reaction progresses, the person may find that their face also becomes swollen. The breathing difficulty will continue to worsen.
- Metformin does NOT cause hair loss
- Diabetes MAY cause hair loss
There is a common question regarding Metformin and the possibility of the use of this drug and its link to potential hair loss.
The reasoning behind this question is likely linked to hair loss experienced by some people who experienced this problem while they were taking Metformin.
The good news here is that Metformin has not been linked directly to hair loss. A complete list of side-effects that may occur when taking the drug is released by the manufacturer – and you will find that hair loss is not one of the listed side-effects. The drug also does not have any type of impact on the human body that may lead to this complication.
At the same time, it should be noted that there are still cases where a person experiences hair loss while they take Metformin. In these cases, however, it is critical to understand that the hair loss has not been directly associated with the use of Metformin.
Instead, it is important for the person to take a closer look at any potential underlying factors that might be causing hair loss.
One common issue that comes to mind here would be the fact that diabetes itself may be the cause of a person’s hair loss.
It has been found that there seems to be an increased risk of developing alopecia areata if you have diabetes.
Alopecia areata is a condition that happens when the person's immune system starts to attack the follicles that are found in the scalp mistakenly. These hair follicles play a critical role in allowing hair to continue growing – and also act as a way for hair to stay attached to the head.
The development of alopecia areata leads to hair loss that generally occurs in patches.
In addition to alopecia areata, it is also important to consider the fact that the presence of type 2 diabetes can increase a person’s risk of developing a condition known as hypothyroidism. This is a disease that causes a reduction in the Thyroid gland’s ability to produce Thyroid hormones – including T3 and T4.
Conditions that affect the Thyroid gland’s ability to produce hormones can contribute to hair loss as well. This is an important additional factor to consider when it comes to looking at how diabetes might be an underlying cause behind hair loss – instead of Metformin itself.
In conclusion to our overview of Metformin's side-effects and the effects that diabetes may have on the body, particularly when drugs and other methods are not used to control the disease, it’s important to weigh up all the risks and the benefits of using this drug.
When you start taking Metformin, there are some side-effects that you need to be aware of. When it comes to hair loss, in particular, you should note that the use of Metformin won’t be a direct, contributing factor to hair loss. You should, however, be aware that hair loss has been listed as a potential side-effect associated with diabetes itself – which means yes, whether you take Metformin or not, the presence of diabetes in your body could lead to hair loss as a symptom.
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