Anyone using Metformin for a long time? what about Kidney disease?

Hi Travis,
I’m so glad you are well and everything functioning normally. My doctor did suggest that my age may be a factor in my kidneys reduced function. Perhaps you are younger than me?


No. Metformin is not the danger to your kidneys.

There is some evidence that ACE inhibitors like Benzapril are protective for all people with diabetes, which is why your doctor prescribes it.

I personally found that my blood pressure dropped when I was on metformin and rose when I went off it.

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It takes two weeks for Metformin to wash out of your body completely, but when people have medical procedures involving dye where they want to not to be taking Metformin because the dye compromises the kidneys a bit, they tell you to stop taking the metformin for 2 days before the procedure and 2 or 3 days afterwards.

So that probably is best.

The evidence linking Metformin to Lactic Acidosis seems to be that it DOES NOT cause it. The stats show identical incidences between people who take it and people who don’t take it in the general population. The reason for the concern is that an earlier drug from the same family (phenformin) did cause it in some people. But after decades in use Metformin appears to be very safe and it also appears to have extremely good impacts on cardiac health.

The only problem with it–which is why I stopped taking it (I am insulin sensitive, too, but took it because it really helped with middle aged weight gain) is that it can irritate the stomach lining in some people. That happened to me after several years and I challenged tested it to make sure it was the cause of the irritation, and it was. But while I was taking it, weight control was extremely easy. Now–yuk.

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Hi Jenny,
Many thanks for your reply - I think I’ll stop taking it a week before New Year and resume it during the week after, just to be safe. It was the Lactic Acidosis that I was worried about to be honest as according to the literature with my pills taking alcohol with Metformin can cause this (but only if you drink more than a glass or two), but reading your response it seems it doesn’t! I’ll play it safe though and just stop the Metformin like I said. It’s only one night a year after all and I think I can stand having to take a bit more insulin for New Year!

Thanks again Jenny, you’ve really put my mind at rest which’ll mean I can look forward to a good New Year!!

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Jenny, your informative posts have helped me a lot.after 5 years I know quite a bit about my condition, but I can always learn. I did get scared when My doctor said that Metformin is nephrotoxic.However, it seems he was mistaken. He’s a GP( family practitioner) not a specialist. I’ve never actually seen one of those. That’s not how the system works here.( Britain)

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Hi Hana,
I’m also in the UK and if you ask your GP, you can get a referral to your nearest Diabetes Specialist Unit at your local hospital (that’s what I did) so you CAN see a specialist, not just your normal doctor for your diabetes care. Since I changed my care to the local hospital, I’ve seen the diabetes specialist/endocrinologist twice this year and have seen the dietician in the diabetes unit (who actually knows what she’s talking about!!) too - oh, and that’s in addition to the diabetes specialist nurses there telling me I can ring them anytime! I’d definitely recommend doing it!

Hi Sam!
My husband is a lifelong T1 diabetic and “cared for” by the hospital. I’ve never been impressed by the treatment he receives, so I’m not in a hurry to go there, but in this PCT, they have it shared out.Stable T2s go to the GP and unstable T2s and T1s go to the hospital. Anyway I’ve been educating my GP on Bernstein and he’s been discussing me and Bernstein with the consultant diabetologist on the golf course, so I might meet with hostility if I turned up there. In addition, I follow a low carb diet, which they don’t like.

I would be extremely careful with Lisinopril and Metformin. My father died Nov. 24, 2007 at the age of 60. He had Congestive Heart Failure and was taking both Lisinopril and Metformin, which caused acute tubular necrosis (kidney failure) which lead to his death. Until he was prescribed those medications, he had never had any kidney trouble whatsoever, and had been non-insulin dependant Type 2 diabetic. I have received his medical records and have learned that the creatinine serum level shows the decline of his kidney function over the course of time he was taking the above medications (about 3 years for the Metformin; not sure how long he was on the Lisinopril, as I’m still in the process of culling all records).

At the time he was admitted to the hospital, it was at 4.1; normal levels are 0.5-1.5. I also noted that his kidneys were deteriorating (over the course of his time on the medication); the test results show warning “flags” on the creatinine and blood urea over the course of 3 years, yet that was never addressed by his doctor, and as a result, the kidney failure came as a sudden shock. It shouldn’t have been; the warning signs were there - and were clear - all along; we just didn’t know it. That is, until now.

Of course, his death was caused by a combination of a grossly negligent doctor (who dismissed my dad from his office with a prescription for nausea - two days before he was admitted to the ICU, where he stayed for 3 weeks with catastrophic kidney failure) and the meds.

I don’t have any personal experiences with the medications other than what they did to my dad who, prior to taking them, was a very healthy, vibrant man. He ran marathons, he golfed almost constantly (!!!), and his life was valuable. He shouldn’t have died the way he did, particularly because it was totally preventable.

I’m glad your doctor is monitoring you, but you’re doing the right thing seeking additional information for yourself. And, by the way, contrary to one of the comments here, Metformin is known to hurt your kidneys if you have Congestive Heart Failure and other conditions; that is specifically acknowledged by the contraindications from the maker, itself. There is something called a “black box warning” from the pharmaceutical company which specifically warns about the dangers to the kidneys and (I think) liver with certain other conditions, including CHF. Just be careful, keep a very close eye on your health (Chronic Kidney disease can’t be good, even without symptoms) and take care of yourself. I wish you, and everyone here, the very best.

Ace inhibitors are commonly used with diabetics as a way to prevent damage to the kidneys. At a low dosage, not at a dosage that you would take for high blood pressure.

Having go stresed about my kidneys, I went to see my diabetes specialist Nurse, who is an absolute darling and told me that my kidneys are fine and hat the doctor has a “bee in his bonnet” I hope she’s right, but she asked me for another urine test. i’ll get results tomorrow. she also thinks my stalled weight loss is due to building muscle. i do some resasonable exercise every week.

According to my endocrinologist, who is considered the best in the state, Metformin will not harm your kidneys, but, it can build up in your kidneys if they aren’t working correctly. I have one kidney, now, and my doctor is adamant that I stay on Metformin and that it will not hurt my remaining kidney.

**On EDIT: I see I’ve put this reply in the wrong place - OOPS! It was meant to go after Suzy Smith’s comment. Sorry!

As I stated in my previous comment, Metformin is known to cause damage to kidneys in patients with Congestive Heart Failure. Your physician hopefully will know what’s best in your individual case. However, in my father’s case, and other cases involving patients with Congestive Heart Failure, Metformin was shown to cause varying degrees of kidney failure, up to and including death, as in my father’s case. Incidentally, you can research Metformin and Lisinopril - as well as their contraindications - online. I found many documented cases of acute kidney failure caused by Metformin simply by searching using Google, etc., and again, the maker of Metformin has issued a black box warning about the potential harm done to the kidneys of patients with Congestive Heart Failure. If you don’t have Congestive Heart Failure, the warning may not apply to you. I hope you continue to do well with your remaining kidney.

That’s so good to hear. I have just had a further urine test for microalbumin and there’s none, so my kidneys are probably clear anyway despite my doctor’s upsetting me
I’m glad your remaining kidney is well. My younger brother had both kidneys damaged by an infection, when he was a child. He went on to be an Olympian, ( Mexico 68) and now is pretty fit and heading for 60 next birthday. (Not diabetic though)

I am more worried about what the Metformin is doing to my bowels.

I’ve been on the Metformin now for 5.5 years and it doesn’t upset me. In fact it never did.

Dear Twix.

I you look on wikipedia “metformin” you can see that you are not alone with gastro upset. In my case after 3 weeks on it I become so tired I can hardly move. The effect on blood sugar control is good in my case with insulin. I remember a few years ago finding a web site with a lot of horror stories from metformin users. I can live without it but if it really helps weight loss it would be great. I would worry about the effect that this drug has on the liver. Not sure what tests to suggest? Any others out there with problems?

You could try to mitigate the gastro upset by a low fiber and high protein diet to see if that helps. If not I would get rid of the stuff and go on insulin.

It sometimes helps with Metformin to take it during your meal.Say half way through. If that doesn’t help, the slow release version is gentler on the alimentary canal. Most people do adapt to it though

I have had kidney stones in my left kidney for years before I became diabetic,

I have been diagnosed for several years. I continue on 2X 1000 per day of metformin. So far nothing has shown up in the blood work. We will keep a check on this. I now, also, take Byetta and humalog as well as Lantus and some pills.
Steve J.

What a lot of medication! After 5.5 years, I am still on Metformin 500 twice a day. Plus Starlix 60 when I’m eating the wrong stuff. Like Christmas day ! :D)
I eat lowered carb. I refuse to accept that this thing MUST be progressive.
How many carbs a day do you eat?n