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    Information about Acarbose

    Acarbose uses

    Acarbose is used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is used along with diet and exercise to improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes.

    How acarbose works

    Acarbose is an anti-diabetic medication. It inhibits an enzyme that helps in conversion of carbohydrates to glucose. This slows down carbohydrate digestion/absorption thereby preventing increase in blood glucose after meals.

    Common side effects of acarbose

    Skin rash, Flatulence, Abdominal pain, Diarrhea
    Content Details
    Written By
    Dr. Betina Chandolia
    MDS, BDS
    Reviewed By
    Dr. Shilpa Garcha
    MD (Pharmacology), MBBS
    Last updated on:
    20 Sep 2019 | 01:27 PM (IST)
    Want to know more?
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    Expert advice for Acarbose

    • Acarbose is used together with other diabetes medicines to control blood sugar and avoid long-term complications.
    • You should continue to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and take your other diabetes medicines along with Acarbose.
    • Acarbose lowers your post-meal blood sugar levels. Therefore, it should be taken just before meals.
    • Side effects such as stomach pain, gas, and diarrhea may occur during the first few weeks of treatment but should get better with time.

    Frequently asked questions for Acarbose


    Q. Does Acarbose cause hypoglycemia?

    Acarbose does not cause hypoglycemia by itself though it has glucose-lowering effect. However, a fall of blood sugar levels in the hypoglycemic range may occur when given along with other antidiabetic medicines or insulin. If this occurs, consult your doctor who may modify your dose accordingly.

    Q. Why does Acarbose cause flatulence?

    Acarbose blocks the digestion of carbohydrates which causes accumulation of undigested carbohydrates in the colon. Bacterial fermentation of the accumulated carbohydrates causes intestinal gas, leading to flatulence and abdominal pain.

    Q. Can Acarbose cause diarrhea?

    Yes, diarrhea is a common side effect of Acarbose. However, this does not affect everybody. Any food containing acarbose, such as household sugar (cane sugar) can cause diarrhea and severe abdominal pain. If diarrhea persists or becomes severe, then contact your doctor immediately.

    Q. When should Acarbose be taken?

    Acarbose should be taken with your meals and should be swallowed whole with water or chewed with the first mouthful of food. The initial dose of Acarbose is generally twice daily. The dose is then gradually increased to thrice daily.

    Q. What if I forget to take Acarbose?

    If you forget to take a dose of Acarbose, do not take the missed dose between meals. Wait for the scheduled dose and meal and continue taking your tablets as prescribed. Do not take the dose twice to make up for your forgotten tablets.

    Q. What will happen if more than the recommended dose of Acarbose is taken?

    If you take more than the recommended dose of Acarbose then it may cause transient increase in flatulence (accumulation of gas), diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. It is advised to avoid meals or drinks containing carbohydrates for the next 4-6 hours.

    Q. Who should not take Acarbose?

    Acarbose should be avoided by patients who are allergic to it, have severe liver disease, or have inflammation or ulceration of intestine (eg Crohn’s disease). The use of Acarbose should also be restricted in patients who have an intestinal obstruction (cramping pain, vomiting, obstipation, and lack of flatus). In addition, patients who have a large hernia or an intestinal disease where food is not digested or absorbed properly should avoid Acarbose. Along with that, Acarbose should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

    Content on this page was last updated on 20 September, 2019, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)