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Acarbose is used to control  blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Acarbose is sometimes used in combination with insulin or other diabetes medications

How it works

Acarbose belongs to class of medications called Oral hypoglycemics  (alpha-glucosidase inhibitor). Acarbose decreases the digestion and absorption of carbohydrate in the intestine by inhibiting intestinal enzyme (alpha glucosidase) results in reduction of increase in blood glucose level after meal

Common side effects

Nausea, Liver enzyme increased, Jaundice, Abnormal liver function tests, Diarrhoea, Flatulence, Indigestion, Stomach pain, Swelling, Vomiting


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Expert advice

  • You should follow the diet prescribed by your doctor to gain the maximum benefit from acarbose tablets.
  • Acarbose should be taken with a little liquid directly before the meal or with the first bite of a main meal, .
  • Acarbose should not be used by pregnant and nursing women, patients with several liver or kidney impairment, chronic intestinal diseases , colon ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, partial intestinal obstruction.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is acarbose/Glucobay a protein? 
No, acarbose is not a protein; it is a complex oligosaccharide (sugar). 
Q. Is acarbose safe?
Acarbose is safe if used at prescribed doses for the prescribed duration as advised by your doctor.
Q. 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. 
Q. 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.
Q. 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 18 October, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)