|Type of medicine||Antidiabetic medicine|
|Used for||Type 2 diabetes mellitus|
Insulin is a hormone that is made naturally in your body. It helps to control the levels of sugar in your blood. If your body does not make enough insulin to meet its needs, or if it does not use the insulin it makes effectively, this results in the condition called diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes).
People with diabetes need treatment to control the amount of sugar in their blood. This is because good control of blood sugar levels reduces the risk of complications later on. Some people can control the sugar in their blood by making changes to the food they eat but, for other people, medicines like acarbose are given alongside the changes in diet.
Acarbose works by slowing down the digestion and absorption of sugars and starches from your digestive system. This helps to reduce the high blood sugar levels which occur after eating meals.
Before taking acarbose
Before taking acarbose make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you are under 18 years of age.
- If you have liver or kidney problems.
- If you have a hernia or have had surgery recently on your abdomen.
- If you have inflammatory bowel disease or have ever had a blockage in your bowel.
- If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
How to take acarbose
- Before starting this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack.
- Take acarbose exactly as your doctor has told you.
- You can swallow acarbose tablets with a drink of water just as you start eating a meal, or if you prefer, you can chew the tablets with your first mouthful of food.
- When starting this treatment, your doctor will give you a small dose and then gradually increase the dose. This allows your doctor to make sure that you have the dose that helps your condition and avoids any unwanted symptoms.
- If you forget to take a dose, do not worry, just take the next dose as normal. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- It is important that you keep your regular doctor's and clinic appointments. This is so your progress can be monitored. You are likely to need regular check-ups with an eye clinic and a foot clinic as well as with your doctor and diabetes clinic.
- Your doctor may recommend that you test for sugar in your blood or urine regularly to check that your diabetes is being controlled. Your doctor or diabetes nurse will show you how to do this.
- If you have been given advice by your doctor about changes to your diet, stopping smoking or taking regular exercise, it is important for you to follow the advice you have been given.
- Check with your doctor before taking up any new physical exercise, as this will have an effect on your blood sugar levels and you may need to check your blood or urine levels more regularly.
- Drinking alcohol may affect the control of your blood sugar. If you have a drink, keep to the recommended alcohol limits.
- If you are due to have an operation or dental treatment, you should tell the person carrying out the treatment that you have diabetes.
- If you get unusually thirsty, pass urine more frequently, and feel very tired, then let your doctor know. These are signs that there is too much sugar in your blood and your treatment may need adjusting.
- Make sure you know what it feels like if your blood sugar is too low. This is known as hypoglycaemia or a 'hypo'. The first signs of hypoglycaemia are: feeling shaky or anxious, sweating, looking pale, feeling hungry, having palpitations (a feeling that your heart is pounding), and feeling dizzy. If these happen you should eat or drink something containing glucose straightaway. Your pharmacist will be able to recommend a suitable glucose preparation for you.
- If you are a driver you should take special care, as your ability to concentrate may be affected if your diabetes is not well-controlled. Make sure you know what it feels like if your blood sugar is low. You may be advised to check your blood or urine glucose levels before you travel and have a snack with you on long journeys.
Can acarbose cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common acarbose side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Flatulence, wind, abdominal pain||Usually these symptoms reduce as your body adjusts. Keep to any advice you have been given about your diet|
|Diarrhoea, soft stools||Try to avoid sugar and sucrose-containing foods. Drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store acarbose
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Glucobay® 50 mg tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Glucobay® 50 mg tablets, Bayer plc, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated May 2010.
|Original Author: Monica Kapoor||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Prof Cathy Jackson|
|Last Checked: 15/12/2011||Document ID: 3474 Version: 24||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.