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What is Fortamet®?

By Megan Kelly
Updated May 17, 2024
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Fortamet® is a prescription drug used to treat type 2 diabetes, a condition in which the body cannot produce insulin normally in order to regulate blood sugar levels. This prescription drug decreases the glucose levels in the bloodstream by decreasing the amounts of the glucose absorbed from the food a person eats and the glucose produced by the liver. It does not cause the body to produce more insulin, rather it helps the body use its own insulin more effectively. Fortamet® cannot be used by people who have type 1 diabetes, in which the body does not produce any insulin. It controls the symptoms of diabetes, but it does not cure it.

This drug can be prescribed as a liquid, a tablet or an extended-release tablet that is taken by mouth. Liquid prescriptions are taken with meals once or twice daily, and regular tablets are taken two or three times daily with meals. Extended-release tablets are taken once daily with a meal, usually in the evening.

Just like most medications, Fortamet® has specific side effects that are normal with regular use. These side effects are caused by changes in blood sugar, such as hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar and can may be solved by eating or drinking items with high sugar content. Some symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, lightheadedness, sweating, headache, weakness, pale skin and hunger.

If hypoglycemia goes untreated, serious side effects can occur. Severe symptoms include confusion, seizures and loss of consciousness. Other severe symptoms can occur because of hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, including frequent urination, extreme hunger, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath and decreased consciousness. Side effects that can be caused by the medication itself are diarrhea, gas, heartburn, headache, cough and flushing of the skin. Serious side effects include chest pain and rashes.

It also is important that patients who are considering taking Fortamet® have healthy liver functions. When a patient who has irregular liver functions takes a drug containing metformins, lactic acidosis can occur. Lactic acidosis is a rare, but serious, condition that causes an accumulation of excess lactic acid in the blood. It occurs in approximately one out of 33,000 patients, but it can be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms include a lack of energy, muscle pain, sleepiness, chills and slow or irregular heartbeat. Risk factors include kidney or liver problems, excessive alcohol consumption, serious dehydration and being more than 80 years old without having kidney function tested by a physician.

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