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Drugs

Side Effects

Serious

There are no serious side effects associated with acarbose.
Common

Feelings of bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea. These symptoms tend to decrease over time.
Less Common

Rise in liver enzymes, causing yellowish tinge to eyes or skin (jaundice), when maximal dose is exceeded. When used in combination with sulfonylureas, may cause symptoms of low blood sugar, which include sweating, tremor, anxiety, hunger, confusion, seizures, rapid heartbeat, vision changes, dizziness, headache, loss of consciousness. Hypoglycemia must be treated by ingestion of glucose (dextrose). Sucrose (table sugar) and foods or drinks containing sugars or starches are ineffective because acarbose prevents their breakdown and absorption.

Acarbose


Drug Class:
Antidiabetic agent

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: No

Precose 50 mg
(Bayer)
Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions
 


Available In
Tablets

Why Prescribed
As an adjunct (supplemental) therapy in patients with diabetes who do not require insulin injections yet are unable to control their blood glucose levels with diet alone or with other medications.

How It Works
Acarbose inhibits the activity of enzymes required to break carbohydrates down into simple sugars within the intestine. This effect delays the digestion of carbohydrates and thus reduces the rise in blood sugar that typically occurs after meals.

Range and Frequency
Initially, 25 mg, 1 to 3 times a day. The dose may be increased (at four- to eight-week intervals) to a maximum of 100 mg, 3 times daily.

Onset of Effect
Within one hour.

Duration of Action
Up to two hours.

Dietary Advice
This medicine should be taken with the first bite of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Follow your doctor's advice regarding diet, weight loss, and exercise.

Storage
Keep in a tightly sealed container away from heat and direct light.

Missed Dose
If you have finished a meal without taking the medication, skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosing schedule with the next meal. Do not double the next dose.

Stopping the Drug
Take it as prescribed for the full treatment period.

Prolonged Use
Since non-insulin-dependent diabetes is a chronic condition, use of acarbose will be ongoing. Blood glucose levels should be checked regularly during treatment so that the dosage may be adjusted if necessary.

Over 60
No special precautions required.

Driving and Hazardous Work
Acarbose should not impair your ability to perform such tasks safely.

Alcohol
Drink only in moderation when taking acarbose.

Pregnancy
Consult your doctor for advice. Insulin is usually the treatment of choice for pregnant diabetic patients.

Breast Feeding
Trace amounts of acarbose can be found in breast milk; however, adverse effects in infants have not been documented. Consult your doctor for advice.

Infants and Children
Safety and effectiveness have not been established for patients under 18 years of age. Consult your doctor for specific advice.

Special Concerns
You should not take acarbose if you've had an allergic reaction to it previously or if you are taking, or took within the past 14 days, a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor (a class of antidepressant drugs).

Overdose Symptoms
Increased gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

What to Do
These symptoms usually subside on their own within a short period of time. If not, consult your doctor for advice. Symptoms of hypoglycemia should not occur when taking acarbose alone, but may occur if a patient is also taking sulfonylurea or insulin for diabetes.

Drug Interactions
Do not take acarbose if you are taking, or took within the past 14 days, an MAO inhibitor. Consult your doctor for specific advice if you are taking any of the following drugs that may interact with acarbose: digestive enzyme preparations containing amylase or pancreatin, intestinal absorbents (such as charcoal), insulin, or sulfonylureas (oral antidiabetic agents).

Food Interactions
Avoid foods that contain large amounts of sugar (for example, cake, cookies, candy, acidic fruits). Closely follow the diet your doctor has prescribed.

Disease Interactions
This drug should not be taken by patients with a history of diabetic ketoacidosis, intestinal disorders (including malabsorption or obstruction), inflammatory bowel disease (for example, Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis), liver or kidney disease, or gastric ulcers.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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