Brand names of acarbose

  • Prandase
  • Precose

Acarbose belongs to the class of medications known as alpha-glucosidase inhibitors and is taken orally to control high blood sugar (glucose) levels in patients having type-II diabetes. Miglitol (Glyset) is another medication which belongs to this class of drugs.

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Carbohydrates ingested through foods are broken down into smaller sugars by enzymes in the intestine and are finally taken up by the body raising the levels of blood sugar. In order to break down the carbohydrates into simpler sugars it is necessary for the pancreas to release alpha-amylase enzymes into the intestine. These enzymes disintegrate carbohydrates into smaller sugars known as oligosaccharides. Subsequently, the cells that form the inside layer of the small intestine secrete alpha-glucosidase enzymes which break the oligosaccharides down into further smaller sugars, such as glucose, which is absorbed by the body.

Acarbose is a synthetically prepared oligosaccharide that is intended to inhibit the activities of alpha-glucosidase as well as alpha-amylase enzymes and, in this way, it impedes the rise of sugar in the bloodstream following any meal. Acarbose was approved for sale and use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September 1995.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking acarbose

Prior to beginning treatment with acarbose, it is important to tell your physician or pharmacist whether you have allergic reactions to this medication, any of its components or have any additional type of allergy. This medicament may enclose a number of inactive elements that may result in allergies or additional problems. Therefore, it is advisable that you talk to your pharmacist for further information in this regard.

People suffering from specific health conditions should not use acarbose. Before you start taking this medication, you should talk to your physician or pharmacist provided you have extremely high levels of blood sugar (diabetic ketoacidosis), cirrhosis (an acute liver ailment), and/ or bowel/ intestinal problems (for instance, digestion absorption disorders, inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal blockage/ulcers).

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In addition, inform your physician or pharmacist about your entire medical history before you start using acarbose, especially if you have or ever had any kidney ailment. You may feel dizzy, drowsy or experience blurred vision owing to very high or low levels of blood sugar. Therefore, it is advisable that while undergoing treatment with acarbose, you do not undertake any task that may require alertness and clear eyesight, such as driving or operating a machine, until such time when you are sure about the effects of the drug on your body and when you may carry out these tasks safely. At the same time, you need to restrict your consumption of alcoholic beverages, as they may possibly augment the chances of having low blood sugar levels.

It is worth mentioning here that controlling your blood sugar levels may become more difficult when your body is under pressure, for instance, owing to any injury, fever, infection or even a surgery. In such cases it is important that you talk to your physician since this may necessitate an adjustment in your treatment program, blood sugar examination or even medications.

Pregnant women should never use acarbose unless it is extremely necessary for their condition. Such women should consult their physician regarding the potential benefits and risks of taking acarbose during pregnancy. It is possible that your physician may ask you to take insulin injections instead of taking this medication during pregnancy. It is important to strictly follow the directives of your physician if you are using acarbose during pregnancy. While it is yet to be ascertained whether this medication passes onto the breast milk, new mothers should consult their physician before breast feeding.

Before using acarbose, you should essentially tell your physician as well as pharmacist regarding all the prescription and over-the-counter drugs taken by you, particularly if you are taking any additional drug for treating diabetes, diuretics ('water pills'), digoxin (Lanoxin), phenytoin (Dilantin), medications to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) or colds, estrogens, oral contraceptives, isoniazid, thyroid medications, pancreatic enzymes and vitamins.

In case you need to undergo any surgery, counting dental operation, inform your surgeon/ dentist that you are already using acarbose.


Acarbose belongs to the class of medications known as alpha-glucosidase inhibitors and it is used in the form of a supplemental or adjunct treatment in people having diabetes, but do not need to take insulin injections, nevertheless are not able to restrict their blood sugar levels only with diet or also by using other drugs.

This medicament is always used in combination with appropriate diet as well as an exercise program to restrict the levels of blood sugar in patients suffering from type-II diabetes (the form of the disease where the patient does not require taking insulin injections). Effective control of high blood sugar levels put off any damage to the kidneys, loss of eyesight, problems related to the nerves, losing limbs and also problems related to sexual functioning. In addition, controlling diabetes in a proper manner may possibly also decrease the chances of having a stroke or heart attack. Acarbose works by slowing down the disintegration of starch (carbohydrate) from the ingested food into simple sugars to ensure the levels of blood sugar do not go up considerably following a meal.

Acarbose may be used individually with a proper diet and exercise program or in combination with other blood-sugar lowering medicaments like insulin, sulfonylureas like glipizide and metformin) to restrict diabetes, as each of these medications act in dissimilar manners.

How to use acarbose

Acarbose is taken orally, normally thrice every day at the beginning of every major meal or as per the instructions of your physician. The dosage of this medication is dependent on the medical condition of the patient, his/ her response to the treatment and weight. Your physician may increase the dosage of this medication gradually with a view to decide on the most effectual dose for you. According to the manufacturers, the maximum daily dosage of acarbose should not exceed 300 mg.

In order to obtain the utmost benefit of using acarbose, use this medicament on a regular basis. And take it at the same time(s) every day as it will help you to remember that you have to take acarbose.

Continue consuming a suitable diet, work out every day and get the blood sugar levels in your urine checked according to your physician's directions.

How acarbose works

Acarbose works by slowing down the actions of the enzymes necessary to break down carbohydrates into simpler sugars inside the intestine. This action of the medicament impedes the assimilation of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, thereby lowering the increase in the blood sugar level, which is usual following meals.

Side effects

Less common:
  • rise in liver enzymes, causing jaundice when overdose
When used in combination with sulfonylureas may cause:

Possible interactions

Herbal medicines or minerals:
Taking chromium is likely to alter the competency of your body to utilize sugar. A number of stores selling health foods recommend the use of vanadium as it imitates the way insulin works, but potential toxicity as well as the need for further in-depth studies currently prohibit the advising the use of this mineral. On the other hand, using DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) may perhaps alter the body's sensitivity to insulin or its resistance. Herbs like garlic, ginger, hawthorn, licorice and ginseng as well as yohimbe and nettle have the potential to alter the blood sugar levels. As taking any of these herbs may necessitate adjusting the dose of hypoglycemic medication, it is advisable that you consult your physician before using these herbal remedies in combination with acarbose. Diabetic patients should strictly avoid using the injectable form of Echinacea purpurea and the seed or husk of blond psyllium.
People with high blood sugar levels and taking acarbose should strictly follow the diet recommended by their physician. Controlling blood sugar effectively may assist in putting off or delaying problems related to diabetes. Taking high doses of vitamin C is likely to aggravate blood sugar (glucose) control.
Occurrence of unrelated illness:
It is important to note that development of any type of ailment may alter the control of blood sugar. In such cases, people with high blood sugar levels may require taking insulin provisionally.
Heavy exercise or exertion:
It is advisable to exercise caution while undertaking rigorous exercises or exerting yourself while undergoing treatment with acarbose, as this medication reduces peak in blood sugar following meals. Talk to your physician if you require any changes in the dosage of the medication.


You should never discontinue taking acarbose suddenly or without consulting your physician. Talk to your physician and seek his/ her guidance before you stop taking this medication.

Storage instructions

Acarbose should always be stored in the container in which it was available. Seal the container firmly and keep it in a place that is beyond children's reach. This medication should be stored at room temperature and in a place free from too much heat and dampness. Never keep this medication in your bathroom, as the place is usually humid. Unless instructed otherwise, do not discard any medication that has become outdated or is required no more by flushing it down the toilet or pouring it in the drain. Always discard the medications in a safe and proper manner. If necessary, consult your pharmacist or any local waste disposal firm regarding the safe and appropriate way to dispose of such medications.


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