Acarbose is used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes. According to pharmacological studies, this develops a glycemic mechanism while lessening the circulating insulin levels. This also improves the sensitivity to insulin in muscles. This medication is used along with a proper diet and exercise program to control high blood pressure. Proper control of diabetes may lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Controlling high blood pressure helps also prevent:

  • Loss of limbs
  • Kidney damage
  • Blindness
  • Nerve problems
  • Sexual function problems

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition. It affects the way your body metabolizes sugar. Glucose or sugar is an important source of fuel for your body. With this condition, your body either resists the effects of insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. There’s no cure for type 2 diabetes mellitus but losing weight, eating well, and exercising can help manage the disease. If diet and exercise are not enough to manage your blood sugar well, you may also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy. Signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes mellitus may include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Areas of darkened skin usually in the armpits and neck

Acarbose is a prescription approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is supplied as a tablet for oral use. Each tablet has Acarbose as an active ingredient. It is an oral alpha-glucosidase inhibitor that slows the breakdown and absorption of carbohydrates from the foods you eat. It is also known as a man-made oligosaccharide designed to slow down the actions of alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase. This effect helps lessen your blood sugar rises after a meal. Acarbose is available in the dosage forms of 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg.

How does Acarbose work?

If you have type 2 diabetes mellitus, your body doesn’t use the hormone insulin normally. It can’t control the amount of sugar or glucose in the blood.

Acarbose slows the breakdown and absorption of sugars and starches in the gut. It is by preventing the action of enzymes in the intestine that would usually break down the sugars and starches that you eat. It is also into molecules that are small enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream. It has the most effect on an enzyme called sucrose which normally breaks down a type of sugar called sucrose.

How to use Acarbose?

The prescribed dosage is based on your medical condition and response to the treatment. You must take this medication exactly as it is given by your doctor. You should not take less or more often than the prescription. Your doctor may direct you to start at a lower dose and eventually increase it. Let your doctor know if your condition worsens or does not improve.

Acarbose is to be taken by mouth usually three times a day or as directed by your doctor. This medication is to be taken with meals to delay the breakdown of sugars and starches in the gut. This also slows down their absorption into the blood.  Do not suddenly stop taking Acarbose without the consent of your doctor. It is important to continue taking this even if you feel well. To help you remember, take it at the same time and in the same way each day. Swallow the tablet as a whole with a full glass of water. Do not break, chew, or crush it. Drink plenty of fluids while having this treatment. Doing so may lessen the risk of certain side effects. If you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember it. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed dose.

What are the side effects of Acarbose?

Common side effects:

  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rash or itching
  • Stomach pain in the first few weeks of treatment as your body adjusts to the medication

Let your doctor know if you have rare but very serious side effects of this medication such as:

  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Severe stomach or abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Diarrhea that is watery or bloody
  • Easy bruising
  • Yellowing eyes or skin

Get emergency medical help if you have any signs of an allergic reaction such as:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat

Warnings and Precautions

  • Before taking Acarbose, tell your doctor if you have any medical history especially of kidney or liver problems and intestinal or bowel problems.
  • You may experience dizziness or blurred vision due to extremely low or high blood sugar. Do not drive or do any activity that needs alertness or clear vision.
  • Limit alcohol while having this treatment. It may increase your risk of developing low blood sugar.
  • While you are taking this drug, your doctor may want to check your blood sugar level from time to time.
  • This medicine does not cause low blood sugar. However, if it is added to treatment with other antidiabetic medicines there is more chance of your blood sugar falling too low. If you experience hypoglycemia while having this medication, it should be treated with glucose, not sucrose.
  • This may rarely affect your liver. For this reason, this is not recommended that your liver function is monitored for the first 6-12 months of treatment with Acarbose.
  • Do not share this with others even if they have the same symptoms as yours.
  • This is not recommended for use in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • This medication should not be used in:
  • People with a tendency to suffer from total or partial blockages in the gut
  • People with ulceration in the bowel
  • Those with severely decreased liver or kidney function
  • Those with a condition of hernias that may worsen as a result of increased gas formation in the gut