Acarbose

Acarbose is used to treat type 2 diabetes. It slows the digestion of certain foods and prevents too much glucose from entering the blood stream after meals.

Acarbose Overview

Reviewed: October 10, 2013
Updated: 

Acarbose is a prescription medication used to treat type 2 diabetes.

Acarbose belongs to a group of drugs called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. These work by slowing the action of certain chemicals that digest food, which prevents glucose from being released into the blood stream too quickly after a meal.

This medication comes in tablet form and is taken three times a day, with the first bite of each main meal.

Common side effects of acarbose include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and flatulence.

In combination with other medications to treat diabetes, acarbose can also cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can cause blurred vision and dizziness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how acarbose affects you.

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Acarbose Cautionary Labels

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Uses of Acarbose

Acarbose is a prescription medication used to treat type 2 diabetes along with diet and exercise.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Acarbose Brand Names

Acarbose may be found in some form under the following brand names:

Acarbose Drug Class

Acarbose is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Acarbose

Serious side effects have been reported with acarbose. See the “Acarbose Precautions” section.

Common side effects of acarbose include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence

This is not a complete list of acarbose side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Acarbose Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:

  • other medications for diabetes
  • digoxin (Lanoxin)
  • diuretics ('water pills')
  • estrogens
  • isoniazid
  • medications for high blood pressure or colds
  • oral contraceptives
  • pancreatic enzymes
  • phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • steroids
  • thyroid medications
  • vitamins

This is not a complete list of acarbose drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Acarbose Precautions

Serious side effects have been reported with acarbose including the following:

 

  • Hypoglycemia. When used in combination with other medications to treat type 2 diabetes, acarbose can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have some or all of the following symptoms of hypoglycemia:
    • shakiness
    • dizziness or lightheadedness
    • sweating
    • nervousness or irritability
    • sudden changes in behavior or mood
    • headache
    • numbness or tingling around the mouth
    • weakness
    • pale skin
    • hunger or thirst
    • clumsy or jerky movements
    • confusion
    • weakness
    • blurred vision

 

Do not take acarbose if you:

  • are allergic to acarbose or to any of its ingredients
  • have diabetic ketoacidosis
  • have cirrhosis
  • have inflammatory bowel disease, colonic ulceration, or partial intestinal obstruction
  • have chronic intestinal diseases or disorders of digestion or absorption
  • have conditions that may deteriorate as a result of increased gas formation in the intestine

 

Acarbose Food Interactions

Medications can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of acarbose, there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving this medication.

Inform MD

Before taking acarbose, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. Especially tell your doctor if you:

  • are allergic to acarbose or to any of its ingredients
  • have kidney problems
  • have liver problems
  • have gastrointestinal problems
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Acarbose and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.

Acarbose falls into category B.

There are no well-done studies that have been done in humans with acarbose. In animal studies, pregnant animals were given this medication, and the babies did not show any medical issues related to this medication.

Acarbose and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

It is not known if acarbose crosses into human milk. Because many medications can cross into human milk and because of the possibility for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants with use of this medication, a choice should be made whether to stop nursing or stop the use of this medication. Your doctor and you will decide if the benefits outweigh the risk of using acarbose.

Acarbose Usage

Take acarbose exactly as prescribed.

Acarbose comes in tablet form and is taken three times daily, with the first bite of each main meal.

If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses of acarbose at the same time.

Acarbose Dosage

Take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

The dose your doctor recommends may be based on the following:

  • the condition being treated
  • other medical conditions you have
  • other medications you are taking
  • how you respond to this medication

The recommended starting dose of acarbose for the treatment of type 2 diabetes is 25 mg three times daily. Dose increases should be individualized on the basis of effectiveness and tolerance. The maximum recommended dose of acarbose is 100 mg three times daily.

Acarbose Overdose

If you take too much acarbose, call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center, or seek emergency medical attention right away.

If acarbose is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.

Other Requirements

  • Store acarbose at room temperature.
  • Keep this and all medicines out of the reach of children.