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Acarbose is used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes

How it works

Acarbose is active in the small intestine, where it inhibits enzymes which are responsible for the breakdown of complex sugar into simple sugars such as glucose. Which thereby slows the digestion of sugar in the intestines and primarily lowers the post-meal rise in blood sugar levels.

Common side effects

Skin rash, Flatulence, Abdominal pain, Diarrhoea

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Expert advice

  • Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with a proper diet alone or a diet along with exercise. A planned diet and exercising are always important when you have diabetes, even when you are taking antidiabetic medicines. 
  • Acarbose is administered orally and should be chewed with the first mouthful of food, or swallowed whole with a little liquid directly before the meal.
  • Acarbose does not help patients who have type 1 diabetes.
  • Notify your doctor if you are or are planning to become pregnant.

Frequently asked questions



Is acarbose/Glucobay a protein?
No, acarbose is not a protein; it is a complex oligosaccharide (sugar)


Is acarbose safe?
Acarbose is safe if used at prescribed doses for the prescribed duration as advised by your doctor


Does acarbose cause weight fluctuations?
Acarbose when combined with low calorie diet and exercise may cause weight loss. Acarbose generally does not cause weight gain when taken as prescribed

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Does acarbose cause hypoglycemia?
Acarbose does not cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if taken as prescribed. However, low blood sugar can occur if you take acarbose with another blood sugar lowering medicine, delay or miss a meal or snack, exercise more than usual or drink alcohol


How long does acarbose last?
Generally, the effect of acarbose lasts up to 3-5 hours, however it may vary depending on the individual taking the medicine.

Content on this page was last updated on 22 February, 2017, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)