Acarbose is used along with a proper diet and exercise program to control high blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Controlling high blood sugar helps prevent kidney damage, blindness, nerve problems, loss of limbs, and sexual function problems. Proper control of diabetes may also lessen your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Acarbose works by slowing the breakdown of starch (carbohydrates) from the food you eat into sugar, so that your blood sugar level does not rise as much after a meal.
Acarbose may be used with other medications (e.g., insulin, metformin, sulfonylureas such as glipizide) to control diabetes because they work in different ways.
Take this medication by mouth, usually 3 times a day at the start (with the first bites) of each main meal or as directed by your doctor.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, weight, and response to therapy. Your dose may be gradually increased to determine the most effective dose for you. The manufacturer recommends that you do not take more than 300 milligrams per day.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day.
For best results, continue to eat a proper diet, exercise regularly, and check your blood sugar regularly as directed by your doctor.
Diarrhea, gas, upset stomach, constipation, or stomach pain may occur in the first few weeks of treatment as your body adjusts to this medication but usually improve with time. Follow your prescribed diet to help lessen these side effects. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: unusual tiredness, persistent nausea/vomiting, severe stomach/abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine.
Acarbose does not cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). However, this effect can occur if you also take other anti-diabetic drugs (e.g., sulfonylureas, insulin) and if you do not consume enough calories from food or if you do unusually heavy exercise. Symptoms of low blood sugar include cold sweat, blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, shaking, fast heartbeat, headache, fainting, tingling of the hands/feet, and hunger. Do not use table sugar (also called cane sugar or sucrose) to relieve these symptoms because acarbose delays its breakdown. Carry glucose tablets or gel with you to treat low blood sugar. If you are in a situation where you don't have these reliable forms of glucose, eat some honey or drink a glass of orange juice (sources of another sugar, fructose) to quickly raise your blood sugar level. Tell your doctor about the reaction right away. To help prevent low blood sugar, eat meals on a regular schedule, and do not skip meals. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out what you should do if you miss a meal.
Symptoms of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) include thirst, increased urination, confusion, drowsiness, flushing, rapid breathing, and fruity breath odor. If these symptoms occur, tell your doctor right away. Your dosage may need to be increased or you may need other drugs.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms of a serious allergic reaction: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before taking acarbose, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
This medication should not be used if you have certain medical conditions. Before using this medicine, consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have: severe liver disease (cirrhosis), intestine/bowel problems (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal blockage/ulcers, digestion/absorption disorders).
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: kidney disease.
You may experience blurred vision, dizziness, or drowsiness due to extremely low or high blood sugar levels. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness or clear vision until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages because they can increase the risk of developing low blood sugar.
It may be harder to control your blood sugar when your body is stressed (e.g., due to fever, infection, injury, or surgery). Consult your doctor because this may require a change in your treatment plan, medications, or blood sugar testing.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. Your doctor may substitute insulin for this drug during your pregnancy. Follow all instructions carefully.
It is unknown if this medication passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with them first.
This drug should not be used with the following medications because very serious interactions may occur: activated charcoal, digestive enzyme products (e.g., amylase, pancreatin).
If you are currently using any of these medications listed above, tell your doctor or pharmacist before starting acarbose.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription/herbal products you may use, especially of: pramlintide.
Beta-blocker medications (e.g., metoprolol, propranolol, glaucoma eye drops such as timolol) may prevent the fast/pounding heartbeat you would usually feel when your blood sugar level falls too low (hypoglycemia). Other symptoms of low blood sugar such as dizziness, hunger, and sweating are unaffected by these drugs.
Many drugs can affect your blood sugar levels, making it more difficult to control your blood sugar. Before you start, stop, or change any medication, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about how the medication may affect your blood sugar. Check your blood sugar levels regularly as directed by your doctor. Tell your doctor about the results and of any symptoms of high or low blood sugar. (See also Side Effects section.) Your doctor may need to adjust your anti-diabetic medication, exercise program, or diet.
This document does not contain all possible interactions. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share the list with your doctor and pharmacist.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Do not share this medication with others.
You should attend a diabetes education program to learn more about diabetes and all the important aspects of its treatment, including meals/diet, exercise, personal hygiene, medications, and getting regular eye/foot/medical exams.
Keep all medical appointments. Laboratory and/or medical tests (e.g., liver and kidney function tests, fasting and after-meal blood glucose levels, hemoglobin A1c, complete blood counts) should be performed periodically to check for side effects and monitor your response to therapy. Check your blood or urine sugar levels regularly as directed by your doctor or pharmacist.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature below 77 degrees F (25 degrees C) away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medicines away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard your product.
MEDICAL ALERT: Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).
Information last revised July 2016. Copyright(c) 2016 First Databank, Inc.
With WebMD's Medicine Cabinet, you can check interactions with drugs.Go to medicine cabinet