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Side Effects, Dosage, Uses, and More

  • Acarbose oral tablet is available as a generic drug and a brand-name drug. Brand: Precose.
  • Acarbose only comes as an oral tablet.
  • Acarbose is used to treat type 2 diabetes.
  • Pneumatosis cystoides intestinalis warning: These are gas-filled cysts on the wall of your intestines. They are a rare but serious complication of using acarbose. Symptoms include diarrhea, mucus discharge, rectal bleeding, and constipation. You need to let your doctor know immediately if you experience these symptoms.
  • Allergic skin reaction warning: In rare cases, using acarbose can cause an allergic skin reaction. Symptoms include rash, redness, and swelling.
  • Liver problems warning: Rarely, acarbose can cause liver damage. Symptoms can include yellowing of the whites of your eyes or skin, stomach swelling, or pain in the upper right portion of your stomach.

Acarbose is a prescription medication. It comes as an oral tablet.

Acarbose is available as the brand-name drug Precose. It’s also available in a generic version. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. That means you may need to take it with other drugs.

Why it’s used

Acarbose is used to treat type 2 diabetes. It helps lower your blood sugar together with diet and exercise.

How it works

Acarbose belongs to a class of drugs called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. It works by slowing the action of certain enzymes that break food down into sugars. This slows down digestion of carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar from rising very high after you eat.

Acarbose does not cause drowsiness, but it can cause other side effects.

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More common side effects

The more common side effects from using acarbose include:

  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • flatulence (gas)

These side effects usually develop during the first few weeks after taking acarbose. They should decrease as you continue to take the medication, typically within a few days or a couple of weeks. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if they’re more severe or don’t go away.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Allergic skin reaction. Symptoms may include:
    • rash
    • redness
    • swelling of your skin
  • Liver problems. Symptoms may include:
    • yellowing of the whites of your eyes or skin
    • stomach swelling
    • pain in the upper right portion of your stomach
  • Pneumatosis cystoides intestinalis. These are gas-filled cysts on the wall of your intestines. They can cause intestinal problems, such as holes, blockage, or bleeding. Symptoms may include:
    • diarrhea
    • mucus discharge
    • rectal bleeding
    • constipation

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.

Acarbose oral tablet can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Examples of drugs that can cause interactions with acarbose are listed below.

Diabetes drugs

When you take certain other diabetes drugs with acarbose, your blood sugar level can get too low, causing hypoglycemia. Signs of hypoglycemia may include fast heart rate, confusion, hunger, sweating, shaking, or feeling weak and dizzy. Examples of these drugs include:

  • sulfonylureas, such as glyburide or glimepiride
  • insulin

Note: Use glucose tablets or liquid glucose to help manage a hypoglycemic event while you’re taking acarbose. Cane sugar (sucrose) won’t work to treat hypoglycemia while you’re taking acarbose. Use oral glucose (dextrose) products instead.

Thyroid drug

Taking levothyroxine with acarbose may affect your blood sugar level. If you take these drugs together, your doctor will adjust your diabetes medications accordingly.

Estrogens and oral contraceptives

Taking certain hormonal medications with acarbose may affect your blood sugar level. Your doctor will adjust your diabetes medications accordingly. Examples of these drugs include:

  • ethinyl estradiol/norgestimate
  • ethinyl estradiol/levonorgestrel
  • ethinyl estradiol/norethindrone
  • ethinyl estradiol/drospirenone

Diuretics (water pills)

Taking acarbose with certain drugs that cause your body to lose water may lead to your blood sugar level getting too high, resulting in hyperglycemia. Examples of these drugs include:

  • thiazide diuretics such as:
    • hydrochlorothiazide
    • chlorthalidone
  • loop diuretics such as:
    • furosemide
    • bumetanide
    • torsemide
  • triamterene

Corticosteroids

Taking acarbose with corticosteroids may cause your blood sugar level to get too high, resulting in hyperglycemia. Examples of these drugs include:

  • hydrocortisone
  • prednisone
  • prednisolone
  • methylprednisolone

Antipsychotic drugs

Taking chlorpromazine with acarbose may cause your blood sugar level to get…

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