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Acarbose (By mouth)

Acarbose (AY-kar-bose)

Improves glycemic control in adults with diabetes.

Brand Name(s):


There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This medicine is not right for everyone. Do not use it if you had an allergic reaction to acarbose, or if you have cirrhosis or a bowel disorder such as colitis, Crohn disease, or a blockage in your bowel.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will tell you how much medicine to use. Do not use more than directed.
  • Take your medicine with the first bite of each main meal.
  • Missed dose: If you remember the missed dose while you are still eating or right after you finished your meal, take the dose right away. Otherwise, wait until your next main meal to take your medicine. Do not take 2 doses at the same time.
  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Do not take acarbose with medicines used to help digest food, such as amylase or pancreatin.
  • Some medicines can affect how acarbose works. Tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following:
    • Digoxin, isoniazid, niacin, phenytoin
    • A calcium channel blocker, cold or allergy medicine, diuretics (water pills), estrogen or birth control pills, phenothiazine medicines (such as promethazine, chlorpromazine), steroid medicine, thyroid medicine

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease or any problems with your bowels.
  • You may need to keep glucose tablets or gel with you in case your blood sugar level becomes too low. Table sugar may not work as well, because acarbose keeps your body from absorbing regular sugar quickly.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Shaking, trembling, sweating, fast or pounding heartbeat, lightheadedness, hunger, confusion

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Gas, diarrhea, or stomach discomfort

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 5/1/2020

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