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Metformin and Alcohol

It is generally recommended that people not use metformin and alcohol at the same time. Taking metformin and alcohol together can increase your risk of developing a life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis. However, drinking small amounts of alcohol should not be a problem for most people taking the medication. Before taking metformin, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about drinking alcohol while taking the drug.

An Overview of Metformin and Alcohol

Metformin (Glucophage®) is a prescription medication licensed as a type 2 diabetes treatment. Often, people are warned to avoid alcohol entirely while taking metformin. This may (or may not) be good advice, depending on your particular situation.

Metformin, Alcohol, and Lactic Acidosis

Taking metformin increases your chance of developing a life-threatening condition called lactic acidosis (see Metformin and Lactic Acidosis). Drinking large amounts of alcohol also increases your risk for lactic acidosis, and combining metformin and large amounts of alcohol can be dangerous (due to the risk of lactic acidosis). As a result, drinking large amounts of alcohol (either on a daily basis or as "binge drinking") is not recommended while taking metformin.
Small amounts of alcohol should not be a problem for most people taking metformin. However, because other medical conditions may also increase your risk of lactic acidosis (including kidney or liver problems), there may be some situations where avoiding alcohol entirely might be a good idea.

Metformin and Alcohol: Suggestions

It is usually not necessary to completely avoid alcohol while taking metformin. However, drinking large amounts of alcohol while taking metformin is not recommended. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider if it would be okay to drink alcohol while taking this drug. Your healthcare provider understands your particular situation and is in the best position to factor in all of the variables (including other medical conditions or other medications you may be taking) before giving recommendations about metformin and alcohol.
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