What It's For & How To Take
Acarbose is an anti-diabetic medication used to help control high blood sugar in patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes known as type 2 diabetes.
This medication is only part of a complete treatment program which may also include exercise, diet, and other medications. Changing any of these factors may affect your blood sugar levels.
Acarbose works by slowing the action of certain chemicals that break down sugars in your intestinal tract. Slowing this breakdown of sugars helps decrease the amount of sugar that is absorbed into your blood after meals.
Maintaining proper sugar level in your body helps prevent nerve damage, kidney problems, vision difficulties, decreases heart attack and stroke risk and helps maintain sexual function.
Acarbose is usually taken 3 times a day. Take each dose with the first bite of each main meal. Your dosage is based on your current condition. Your doctor may gradually increase your dose based on your response to therapy, blood sugar readings, and side effect tolerance.
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Be sure to take it with a snack. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.
If your doctor instructs you, check your blood sugar regularly and keep a record of the readings so you may share them with your doctor. If you have any high or low readings, notify your healthcare provider.
Symptoms of low blood sugar include shaking, sweating, increased heartbeat, blurred vision, tingling in hands and feet and hunger. Most often, low blood sugar will occur following heavy exercise, low calorie intake, or heavy alcohol intake.
Symptoms of high blood sugar include thirst, increased urination, confusion, drowsiness, rapid breathing, and a fruity breath odor. Let your doctor know if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Diabetes education training programs help you understand diabetes and all the treatment and monitoring that goes along with it. Call your local hospital and ask them when the next diabetes education program is being offered.
Warnings & Cautions
- Carry glucose tablets with you in case you have symptoms of low blood sugar. In an emergency, table sugar, orange juice, or any other form of sugar will help raise your blood sugar. Make sure your close friends and family understand how to help you when you experience low blood sugar.
- You may need to check your blood sugar more often when you have a fever, infection, exercise more than usual, skip a meal, drink alcohol or any other event that stresses your body. Ask your doctor how you should adjust your dose if your blood sugar is high or low.
- This medication may make you dizzy, drowsy, or blur your vision. Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking acarbose.
- Let your pharmacist or doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking this medication.
Interactions & Side Effects
- Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if acarbose is safe for you to take.
- Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don't take them very often.
- Do not take this medication if you have liver disease, intestinal blockage or irritable bowel syndrome. Tell your doctor your complete medical history to see if this medication is safe for you to take.
- While taking acarbose you may feel some heartburn, nausea, maybe some stomach fullness or diarrhea and possibly a minor skin rash. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
- Call your doctor right away if you begin to experience any symptoms of infection such as sore throat or fever, unusual tiredness, yellowing of the eyes or skin, dark urine or any other unwanted or unusual side effect.