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Acarbose Drug Class

Acarbose Drug Class

What is acarbose?

Acarbose is a prescription medication. It comes as an oral tablet.

Acarbose is available as the brand-name drug Precose. It’s also available in a generic version. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. That means you may need to take it with other drugs.


If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.

Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.

Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.

Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.

Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about acarbose, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How it works

Acarbose belongs to a class of drugs called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. It works by slowing the action of certain enzymes that break food down into sugars. This slows down digestion of carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar from rising very high after you eat.

Side Effects of Acarbose

Serious side effects have been reported with acarbose. See the “Acarbose Precautions” section.

Common side effects of acarbose include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence

This is not a complete list of acarbose side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Belly pain.
  • Gas.
  • Loose stools (diarrhea).

Acarbose Precautions

Serious side effects have been reported with acarbose including the following:

 Hypoglycemia. When used in combination with other medications to treat type 2 diabetes, acarbose can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have some or all of the following symptoms of hypoglycemia:

  • shakiness
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • sweating
  • nervousness or irritability
  • sudden changes in behavior or mood
  • headache
  • numbness or tingling around the mouth
  • weakness
  • pale skin
  • hunger or thirst
  • clumsy or jerky movements
  • confusion
  • weakness
  • blurred vision


Caution with drugs that cause hyperglycemia (eg, diuretics, steroids, estrogens, phenothiazines, thyroid products, phenytoin, niacin, sympathomimetics, calcium channel blockers, isoniazid). Antagonized by intestinal adsorbents (eg, charcoal), pancreatin, amylase, other carbohydrate-splitting enzymes. Monitor digoxin; and for hypoglycemia if used with insulin or a sulfonylurea. May result in unreliable measurements of 1,5-AG assay; use alternative methods to monitor glycemic control.

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