acarbose

Pronunciation

Generic Name: acarbose (ah KAR bose)
Brand Name: Precose

What is acarbose?

Acarbose slows the digestion of carbohydrates in the body, which helps control blood sugar levels.

Acarbose is used to treat type 2 diabetes. Acarbose is sometimes used in combination with insulin or other diabetes medications you take by mouth.

Acarbose may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about acarbose?

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to acarbose, or if you are in a state of diabetic ketoacidosis (call your doctor for treatment with insulin). You also should not use acarbose if you have inflammatory bowel disease, an ulcer or blockage in your intestines, or cirrhosis of the liver.

Before taking acarbose, tell your doctor if you have liver disease, or any type of stomach or intestinal disorder.

Take acarbose with the first bite of a main meal, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

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Your medication needs may change if you become sick or injured, if you have a serious infection, or if you have any type of surgery. Do not change your dose or stop taking acarbose without first talking to your doctor.

If you take acarbose with insulin or other diabetes medications, your blood sugar could get too low. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can occur if you skip a meal, exercise too long, drink alcohol, or are under stress. Symptoms include headache, hunger, weakness, sweating, tremors, irritability, or trouble concentrating.

Carry hard candy or glucose tablets with you in case you have low blood sugar. Other sugar sources include orange juice and milk. Be sure your family and close friends know how to help you in an emergency.

Acarbose is only part of a complete program of treatment that may also include diet, exercise, weight control, foot care, eye care, dental care, and testing your blood sugar. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely. Changing any of these factors can affect your blood sugar levels.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking acarbose?

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to acarbose, or if you are in a state of diabetic ketoacidosis (call your doctor for treatment with insulin). You also should not use acarbose if you have:

  • inflammatory bowel disease;

  • a blockage in your intestines;

  • a digestive disorder affecting your intestines;

  • intestinal ulcer (of your colon); or

  • cirrhosis of the liver.

To make sure you can safely take acarbose, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • liver disease; or

  • a bowel or intestinal disorder; or

  • a stomach disorder.

FDA pregnancy category B. Acarbose is not expected to harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether acarbose passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using acarbose.

How should I take acarbose?

Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Take acarbose with the first bite of a main meal, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

Your blood sugar will need to be checked often, and you may need other blood tests at your doctor's office. Visit your doctor regularly.

If you take acarbose with insulin or other diabetes medications, your blood sugar could get too low. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can occur if you skip a meal, exercise too long, drink alcohol, or are under stress.

Know the signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and how to recognize them: headache, hunger, weakness, sweating, tremors, irritability, or trouble concentrating.

Always keep a source of sugar available in case you have symptoms of low blood sugar. Sugar sources include orange juice, glucose gel, candy, or milk. If you have severe hypoglycemia and cannot eat or drink, use an injection of glucagon. Your doctor can give you a prescription for a glucagon emergency injection kit and tell you how to give the injection. Be sure your family and close friends know how to help you in an emergency.

Check your blood sugar carefully during a time of stress or illness, if you travel, exercise more than usual, drink alcohol, or skip meals. These things can affect your glucose levels and your dose needs may also change.

Your doctor may want you to stop taking acarbose for a short time if you become ill, have a fever or infection, or if you have surgery or a medical emergency.

Ask your doctor how to adjust your acarbose dose if needed. Do not change your medication dose or schedule without your doctor's advice.

Acarbose is only part of a complete program of treatment that may also include diet, exercise, weight control, foot care, eye care, dental care, and testing your blood sugar. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely. Changing any of these factors can affect your blood sugar levels.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember (be sure to take it with a meal). If it has been longer than 15 minutes since you started your meal, you may still take acarbose but it may be less effective than taking it with the first bite of the meal. Do not take acarbose between meals, and do not take extra medicine to make up a missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include bloating, gas, or stomach discomfort.

In case of overdose, do not eat or drink anything containing carbohydrates for the next 4 to 6 hours.

What should I avoid while taking acarbose?

Avoid drinking alcohol. It can lower your blood sugar.

Avoid taking a digestive enzyme such as pancreatin, amylase, or lipase at the same time you take acarbose. These enzymes can make it harder for your body to absorb acarbose. Products that contain digestive enzymes include Arco-Lase, Cotazym, Donnazyme, Pancrease, Creon, and Ku-Zyme.

Acarbose side effects

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.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Acarbose dosing information

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 other drugs will affect acarbose?

You may be more likely to have hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) if you are taking acarbose with other drugs that raise blood sugar. Drugs that can raise blood sugar include:

  • isoniazid (for treating tuberculosis);

  • digoxin (Lanoxin);

  • niacin (Advicor, Niaspan, Niacor, Simcor, Slo Niacin, and others), nicotine patches or gum;

  • diuretics (water pills);

  • steroids (prednisone and others);

  • phenothiazines (Compazine and others);

  • thyroid medicine (Synthroid and others);

  • birth control pills and other hormones;

  • medicines for colds or asthma

  • seizure medications (Dilantin and others);

  • diet pills, stimulants, or medicines to treat ADHD; or

  • heart or blood pressure medicine such as amlodipine (Norvasc, Caduet, Exforge, Lotrel, Tekamlo, Tribenzor, Twynsta, Amturnide), diltiazem (Cartia, Cardizem), nifedipine (Nifedical, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan), and others.

Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:

  • insulin; or

  • an oral diabetes medication such as glipizide (Glucotrol, Metaglip), glimepiride (Amaryl, Avandaryl, Duetact), glyburide (DiaBeta, Micronase, Glucovance), and others.

This list is not complete and other drugs may affect your blood sugar or interact with acarbose. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about acarbose.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 8.02. Revision Date: 2012-06-16, 9:55:38 AM.

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