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What does it do?

Acarbose is used to treat diabetes by reducing the absorption of sugars from food.

How should you take it?

Take acarbose as directed. It may be swallowed whole with a glass of water, or chewed, at the start of a meal.

What if you forget a dose?

Skip the missed dose and continue as directed. Do not take two doses at the same time and do not take doses between meals.

Can you take other medicines?

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Skin rash, itching

Tell your doctor

Farting, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Tell your doctor if you have kidney, liver, bowel or digestion problems, or if you have had recent abdominal surgery.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Test your blood sugar as directed by your health professional.
  • Do not use regular household sugar to treat low blood sugar (a “hypo”) when taking acarbose. Discuss other options (e.g. dextrose tablets) with your health professional.
  • Limit alcohol intake as it may alter your blood sugar.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the PILs Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Canterbury District Health Board, New Zealand. December 2017

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at the Canterbury District Health Board. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed