What is acarbose?


Generic Name: Acarbose Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is acarbose used for?

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.

How should I take acarbose?

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 time each day.

For best results, continue to eat a proper diet, exercise regularly, and check your urine/blood sugar levels as directed by your doctor.

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.

How do I store acarbose?

Acarbose is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store acarbose in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of acarbose that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush acarbose down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using acarbose?

Before taking acarbose,

  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to acarbose or any other drugs.
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially 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, and vitamins.
  • Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had ketoacidosis, cirrhosis, or intestinal disease such as inflammatory bowel disease or bowel obstruction.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking acarbose, call your doctor.
  • If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking acarbose.

Is it safe to take acarbose during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category B according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk,
  • B=No risk in some studies,
  • C=There may be some risk,
  • D=Positive evidence of risk,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of acarbose?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • Severe stomach pain, severe constipation;
  • Diarrhea that is watery or bloody;
  • Easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin; or
  • Nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Mild stomach pain, gas, bloating;
  • Mild diarrhea; or
  • Mild skin rash or itching.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with acarbose?

Acarbose may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or non-prescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Acetohexamide, Alatrofloxacin, Balofloxacin, Chlorpropamide, Ciprofloxacin, Clinafloxacin, Enoxacin, Fleroxacin, Flumequine, Gatifloxacin, Gemifloxacin, Gliclazide, Glipizide, Glyburide, Grepafloxacin, Levofloxacin, Lomefloxacin, Moxifloxacin, Norfloxacin, Ofloxacin, Pefloxacin, Prulifloxacin, Rufloxacin, Sparfloxacin, Temafloxacin, Tolazamide, Tolbutamide, Tosufloxacin, Trovafloxacin Mesylate.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Acebutolol, Alprenolol, Atenolol, Betaxolol, Bevantolol, Bisoprolol, Bitter Melon, Bucindolol, Carteolol, Carvedilol, Celiprolol, Digoxin, Dilevalol, Esmolol, Fenugreek, Glucomannan, Guar Gum, Iproniazid, Isocarboxazid, Labetalol, Levobunolol, Linezolid, Mepindolol, Methylene Blue, Metipranolol, Metoprolol, Moclobemide, Nadolol, Nebivolol, Nialamide, Oxprenolol, Penbutolol, Phenelzine, Pindolol, Procarbazine, Propranolol, Psyllium, Rasagiline, Selegiline, Sotalol, Talinolol, Tertatolol, Timolol, Tranylcypromine, Warfarin.

Does food or alcohol interact with acarbose?

Acarbose may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with acarbose?

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis;
  • Fever;
  • Infection;
  • Surgery;
  • Trauma—Insulin is needed to control these conditions.
  • Digestion problems;
  • Inflammatory bowel disease;
  • Intestinal blockage;
  • Other intestinal problems—Acarbose should not be used.
  • Kidney disease (severe)—Higher blood levels of acarbose may occur; acarbose should not be used.
  • Liver disease—Acarbose may make this condition worse.

Understand the dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of Acarbose for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Diabetes Type 2

  • Initial dose: 25 mg orally 3 times a day.
  • Maintenance dose: 50 to 100 mg orally 3 times a day.

The maximum dose for patients less than 60 kg is 50 mg orally 3 times a day. The maximum dose for patients greater than 60 kg is 100 mg orally 3 times a day.

What is the dose of Acarbose for a child?

The dosage has not been established in pediatric patients. It may be unsafe for your child. It is always important to fully understand the safety of the drug before using. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How is acarbose available?

Acarbose is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Tablet, Oral: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100mg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of acarbose, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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