Severe lactic acidosis metformin

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How does metformin relate to lactic acidosis?

How does metformin relate to lactic acidosis?

Metformin is a commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a class of drugs known as biguanides and works by lowering blood sugar levels. One of the rare but serious side effects of metformin is lactic acidosis, a condition characterized by the build-up of lactic acid in the bloodstream.

Lactic acidosis can occur when there is an imbalance between the production and clearance of lactic acid in the body. Metformin can increase the risk of lactic acidosis by impairing the normal metabolic process that clears lactic acid from the system.

How does metformin relate?

Metformin, a commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, can lead to lactic acidosis in certain situations. Lactic acidosis is a rare but serious complication that can occur when lactate levels in the blood become too high. Metformin is known to increase the risk of lactic acidosis in individuals with certain underlying medical conditions or risk factors.

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Underlying Medical Conditions Risk Factors
Impaired kidney function Excessive alcohol consumption
Liver disease Dehydration
Heart failure Recent major surgery

It is important for individuals taking metformin to be aware of these risk factors and to seek medical help if they experience symptoms of lactic acidosis. Monitoring kidney function and following proper dosing guidelines can help reduce the risk of developing this potentially life-threatening condition.


Metformin overdose is a significant cause of lactic acidosis. Excessive intake of metformin can lead to an accumulation of the drug in the body, triggering the condition. Other factors that can contribute to lactic acidosis include:

  1. Impaired kidney function: If the kidneys are not functioning properly, they may not be able to efficiently clear metformin from the body, increasing the risk of lactic acidosis.
  2. Dehydration: Inadequate fluid intake or excessive fluid loss can lead to dehydration, which may affect kidney function and exacerbate lactic acidosis.
  3. Alcohol consumption: Alcohol can interfere with the metabolism of metformin and exacerbate lactic acidosis in individuals taking the drug.
  4. Underlying medical conditions: Certain conditions like liver disease, heart failure, or sepsis can increase the risk of lactic acidosis in individuals taking metformin.

It is crucial to be aware of these potential causes and take necessary precautions to prevent lactic acidosis when using metformin.

Metformin overdose

When metformin is taken in excessive amounts, it can lead to a condition known as metformin overdose. This can occur if an individual takes more than the prescribed dose or accidentally ingests too much of the medication.

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Effects of Metformin Overdose

Metformin overdose can result in serious side effects and complications, including:

Lactic Acidosis: One of the most severe consequences of metformin overdose is lactic acidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by the buildup of lactic acid in the blood.
Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Overdosing on metformin can also cause gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
Hypoglycemia: Excessive metformin intake can lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels, leading to symptoms like dizziness, confusion, and weakness.

If you suspect an overdose of metformin or experience any of these symptoms after taking the medication, seek immediate medical attention to prevent further complications.

Underlying medical conditions

Lactic acidosis can be triggered by various underlying medical conditions. Some of the common medical conditions that may predispose individuals to lactic acidosis include:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Renal impairment or kidney disease
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Sepsis or severe infection
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Liver dysfunction

Individuals with these medical conditions are at a higher risk of developing lactic acidosis, especially when exposed to factors that can exacerbate the condition, such as metformin overdose or dehydration.



When lactic acidosis occurs, there are several symptoms to watch out for. These can include:

  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Muscle pain or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Feeling cold or shivering

If you experience any of these symptoms, especially if you are taking metformin, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Early detection and treatment can help prevent the condition from becoming more severe.

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Early signs of lactic acidosis

Lactic acidosis can be a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. The early signs of lactic acidosis may include:

1. Weakness and fatigue:

Feeling weak and unusually tired can be an early indicator of lactic acidosis.

2. Muscle pain or cramps:

You may experience muscle pain or cramps, especially in the legs, as a sign of lactic acidosis.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help promptly to prevent the condition from worsening.

Severe symptoms to watch for

Lactic acidosis caused by metformin overdose can lead to severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention. Some of the signs to watch for include:

– Severe muscle cramps or weakness

– Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

– Severe drowsiness or fatigue

– Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain

– Irregular heartbeat or palpitations

– Confusion or disorientation

– Dizziness or lightheadedness

– Unusual or extreme tiredness

If you experience any of these severe symptoms after taking metformin, seek immediate medical help as lactic acidosis can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.