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Type 2 diabetes medication and diarrhea: how to fix this common problem

The other day I asked on Diabetic South Africans if anyone had any diabetes questions for us to ask our experts – and the questions came flooding in! But one of the most repeated ones was about Type 2 diabetes medication (metformin) and diarrhea… It seems that so many people struggle with it, and it’s making their lives miserable. Some people even said they didn’t want to take their medication because of stomach trouble! But medication is essential for many Type 2 diabetics.

Type 2 diabetes medication and diarrhea: what to do

So I asked Prof Joel Dave, the endocrinologist (diabetes specialist) on our Panel of Experts, for some advice. He agreed that diarrhea or stomach upsets are a common side-effect of Type 2 diabetes medication, and had a few suggestions to offer. He said:

Gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea or upset tummy) are well recognised side-effects of this medication.  Some people are completely intolerant and have to stop the drug. 

You can try:

Taking your medication with meals or immediately after    

Talking to your doctor about taking a lower dose

Taking the long-acting form of Type 2 diabetes medication (not available in the state sector)

Prof. Joel Dave, endocrinologist

So essentially, the advice is to first try taking it with meals. If that doesn’t help, speak to your doctor about a lower dose. And if that doesn’t work, try switching to a different form of the medication.

All kinds of diabetes questions

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What to read next?

How to reverse Type 2 diabetes: There is a ‘recipe’ for how to reverse Type 2 diabetes, and we’ve outlined it step-by-step here.

Managing Type 2 diabetes: All you need to know to manage your condition, with terrific food and exercise tips.

Eat healthy for diabetes: The one article you need to read about diabetes and diet.


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11 Comments

  1. Clifford Clifford

    I have had diarrhea for over 40 years and I am convinced that I was Type II diabetic over the same period. Strange that 6 years ago I was diagnosed as a diabetic, and since taking Metformin my diarrhea has stopped completely.

    • 40 years! How amazing that you’ve coped for that long… So glad it’s finally stopped.

  2. PATRICK PATRICK

    Use the XR 1000 mg version= 2 tabs per day with evening meals/ Seems to work OK but every now and again I get caught out in traffic! Its an awful predicament.

  3. Peter Dick Peter Dick

    Had been using metformin for over ten years but no side effect, especially diarrhoea

  4. Josie Josie

    My tummy is always upset with lot of fart

  5. […] medication is usually tablets followed by injections at a later date if necessary. Sometimes, Type 2 diabetes medication can cause diarrhoea (upset stomach), but if you take it at night this is less of a problem. If it is caught early […]

  6. […] you might have noticed that it gives you an upset tummy – diarrhea is a common side effect. Here’s what endocrinologist Prof Joel Dave has to say. You can talk to your doctor about taking a lower […]

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.