Why Would A Doctor Prescribe Metformin To A Hypoglycemic Patient?

Question

Asked by slywlf

Why Would A Doctor Prescribe Metformin To A Hypoglycemic Patient?

A dear friend was diagnosed years ago with hypoglycemia, caused by her thyroid, while other members of her family have hyperglycemia (diabetes), and are almost all on an insulin regimen. What I do not understand is why her doctor has her on Metformin!? Isn't that counterproductive? Her current thyroid medicine seems to be making her gain weight - it is not her diet, which is healthy and portion controlled. Since she is on Medicaid it is often hard to get meds switched. Also, she is reluctant to risk alienating one of the few local doctors who are still willing to take Medicaid, so she is worried about questioning her doctor about this. What possible purpose is served by giving a glucophage to a person with chronic low blood sugar? I am baffled and concerned! My friend has many health issues besides the thyroid and hypoglycemia, including a degenerative disk problem, a damaged ankle from a fall a few years ago, increasing eye problems since that fall, and social anxiety disorder. She also has a very low IQ, which she is very much aware of, and which makes her reluctant to confront people she perceives as smarter than herself, particularly doctors. She is 60 years old, and I worry that this doctor is not treating her condition correctly, but my own knowledge of hypoglycemia is limited to what I have found on the web - much of which seems related to overdoses of insulin in diabetics, which is not the issue here.

Answer

Doesn't make any sense to me. First of all, thyroid conditions don't cause hypoglycemia. Second, giving metformin would be worthwhile to treat either diabetes or prediabetes, especially in a family setting of diabetes, but if she's hypoglycemic, giving metformin increases the risk of hypos.

She should be evaluated by an endocrinologist.

Bill

William W. Quick, MD, FACP, FACE

Editor, D-is-for-Diabetes

http://www.D-is-for-Diabetes.com

Answered by William Quick, M.D.