General

Pronunciation:
(ay' car bose)

Brand names:

  • Prandase®
  • Precose®

Why Prescribed

Acarbose is used (with diet only or diet and other medications) to treat type 2 diabetes (condition in which the body does not use insulin normally and therefore cannot control the amount of sugar in the blood) . Acarbose works by slowing the action of certain chemicals that break down food to release glucose (sugar) into your blood. Slowing food digestion helps keep blood glucose from rising very high after meals.

Over time, people who have diabetes and high blood sugar can develop serious or life-threatening complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, nerve damage, and eye problems. Taking medication(s), making lifestyle changes (e.g., diet, exercise, quitting smoking), and regularly checking your blood sugar may help to manage your diabetes and improve your health. This therapy may also decrease your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other diabetes-related complications such as kidney failure, nerve damage (numb, cold legs or feet; decreased sexual ability in men and women), eye problems, including changes or loss of vision, or gum disease. Your doctor and other healthcare providers will talk to you about the best way to manage your diabetes.

How to Use

Acarbose comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken three times a day. It is very important to take each dose with the first bite of each main meal. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take acarbose exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Continue to take acarbose even if you feel well. Do not stop taking acarbose without talking to your doctor.

Other Uses

This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Special Precautions

Before taking acarbose,

Hypersensitivity

tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to acarbose or any other drugs.

Drug Interaction

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.

Precautions and Contraindications

tell your doctor if you have or have ever had ketoacidosis, cirrhosis, or intestinal disease such as inflammatory bowel disease or bowel obstruction.

Pregnancy, Fertility, Lactation

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.

Surgery Precautions

if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking acarbose.

Special Dietary Instructions

Be sure to follow all exercise and dietary recommendations made by your doctor or dietitian. It is important to eat a healthful diet.

Alcohol may cause a decrease in blood sugar. Ask your doctor about the safe use of alcoholic beverages while you are taking acarbose.

Forgot a Dose

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. If you will be having a snack soon, take a dose with the snack. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

Side Effects

When used in combination with insulin or other medications used to treat diabetes, acarbose may cause excessive lowering of blood sugar levels.

Hypoglycemic Disease Related Adverse Effects

If you have any of these symptoms, glucose products (Insta-Glucose or B-D Glucose tablets) should be used and you should call your doctor. Because acarbose blocks the breakdown of table sugar and other complex sugars, fruit juice or other products containing these sugars will not help to increase blood sugar. It is important that you and other members of your household understand this difference between acarbose and other medications used to treat diabetes.

  • shakiness
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • sweating
  • nervousness or irritability
  • sudden changes in behavior or mood
  • headache
  • numbness or tingling around the mouth
  • weakness
  • pale skin
  • hunger
  • clumsy or jerky movements

If hypoglycemia is not treated, severe symptoms may develop. Be sure that your family, friends, and other people who spend time with you know that if you have any of the following symptoms, they should get medical treatment for you immediately.

  • confusion
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness

Hyperglycemic Disease Related Adverse Effects

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar):

  • extreme thirst
  • frequent urination
  • extreme hunger
  • weakness
  • blurred vision

If high blood sugar is not treated, a serious, life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis could develop. Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the these symptoms:

  • dry mouth
  • upset stomach and vomiting
  • shortness of breath
  • breath that smells fruity
  • decreased consciousness

Storage Considerations

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

Emergency Overdose

In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

Additional Information

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to acarbose. Your doctor will also tell you how to check your response to this medication by measuring your blood or urine sugar levels at home. Follow these instructions carefully

You should always wear a diabetic identification bracelet to be sure you get proper treatment in an emergency.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

Copyright

This report on medications is for your information only, and is not considered individual patient advice. Because of the changing nature of drug information, please consult your physician or pharmacist about specific clinical use.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. represents that the information provided hereunder was formulated with a reasonable standard of care, and in conformity with professional standards in the field. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose, with respect to such information and specifically disclaims all such warranties. Users are advised that decisions regarding drug therapy are complex medical decisions requiring the independent, informed decision of an appropriate health care professional, and the information is provided for informational purposes only. The entire monograph for a drug should be reviewed for a thorough understanding of the drug's actions, uses and side effects. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. does not endorse or recommend the use of any drug. The information is not a substitute for medical care.

AHFS® Patient Medication Information. © Copyright, 2017. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.

Selected Revisions: December 15, 2017.

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