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How Acarbose Helps Stabilize Blood Sugar

<p>How Acarbose Helps Stabilize Blood Sugar</p>
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

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Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 5 min read

Blood sugar issues can lead to serious health problems. If you have diabetes, controlling it and its effects requires stabilizing your blood sugar.

When you have this disease, it is very easy for your blood sugar to go too high or too low. You want to maintain a normal level, but your body makes that difficult.

While some people can control their diabetes with diet, most people will require intervention. In some situations, this requires injecting insulin or taking insulin pills, but not every diabetes case will benefit from this approach.

If your main goal is to stabilize your blood sugar because it is spiking and dipping throughout the day, then your doctor may prescribe you acarbose. As a bonus, not only does this medicine help with your blood sugar but also with acarbose weight loss is possible, which has its own benefits on treating diabetes.

What It Is and How It Works

Medline Plus explains that acarbose is a drug doctors prescribe for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It comes in a tablet, and you take it orally. Your prescription may be for a brand name version of the drug sold under the names Prandase and Precose.

According to Healthline, acarbose works by blocking the enzyme glycosidase. This enzyme turns complex carbohydrates that you consume into sugar within your body. The sugar then goes into the small intestine where it absorbs into your bloodstream and raises your blood sugar level.

By taking acarbose, you stop the enzyme, and the carbohydrates move through your system without the conversion to sugar. Therefore, the sugar does not go into your blood, and your blood sugar level does not spike.

How This Affects Diabetes

To better understand how acarbose will affect your diabetes, you need to understand what diabetes does in the body.

To begin, acarbose is only for use in type 2 diabetics. The reason for this is that a type 1 diabetic has blood sugar issues due to the body not producing enough insulin. Insulin comes from the pancreas, and a type 1 diabetic has a pancreas that decides to stop producing enough insulin or never produces it.

You need insulin because it helps to put glucose into your bloodstream and move the sugar along into cells for use as energy. When there is not enough insulin, the sugar just stays in the bloodstream.

Acarbose has no effect on insulin, so it cannot help with type 1 diabetes, which requires more insulin in the body. If you have type 1, you will probably take insulin pills or use injections.

Acarbose will work for type 2 diabetes because it occurs due to a different reason. Type 2 diabetes is when the body does not react properly to insulin or stops reacting at all. This means your body doesn't recognize what insulin is trying to do, so the sugar does not move into your cells as it should even though you have the insulin there trying to do its job.

Everyday Health explains that acarbose helps avoid that buildup of sugar in your blood caused by its inaction to insulin. It does not let it absorb at all so that there is no need for the release of insulin or your body recognizing how it should react to the insulin.

You should also note that acarbose weight loss is a side effect. Because it is blocking that excess sugar, it can naturally lead to acarbose weight loss. Losing weight is good for type 2 diabetics as it helps the pancreas to work better.

Type 2 diabetes often is a result of weight gain and unhealthy eating habits. So, acarbose weight loss is an added benefit if it occurs for you. As with any side effect, it is not a guarantee, though.

How To Use It

It is essential that if your doctor prescribes acarbose to you that you follow all the directions that he or she gives you. For acarbose to work effectively, you must take it with your first bite of food. This is not some general rules doctors say for no reason. It is a verified instruction for taking this drug, so do not ignore it.

You will usually take the medication three times a day with each meal. If you forget to take it with your first bite, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it after your meal, don't take it, and never double your dose because you missed your last pill.

If you take acarbose, you should avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol has a lowering effect on blood sugar, so you could end up with a blood sugar level that is too low, which leads to additional health concerns. In fact, when taking this medication, you need to be aware of the signs of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Fast heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Paleness
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Coordination issues

If you have a blood sugar monitor, you should check your sugar levels if you think they may be low. If you are on acarbose and have a low blood sugar episode, you need to seek immediate medical care.

Typically, the reaction is to drink fruit juice or consumer something high in sugar, but those solutions will not work while you take this drug. Acarbose will block that sugar absorption and make it have no effect on your blood sugar level. So, don't wait or hesitate to go to the doctor and get assistance.

Make sure that when you seek care, the medical provider knows that you are on acarbose. This is important information that will affect your treatment.

Acarbose is not for anyone under the age of 18. There has not been adequate research to show whether the drug is safe for children to use.

You also should not use it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It could pass to your child and lead to health issues. If you are pregnant or will become pregnant or if you breastfeed, make sure your doctor is aware before accepting a prescription for it.

It is also important to let your doctor know about using acarbose if you are going to have surgery. This includes any type of surgery as the drug can cause interactions or issues.

You also want to avoid this drug if you have certain conditions:

  • Intestinal diseases
  • Ketoacidosis
  • Cirrhosis

Further Advice

Acarbose is not a miracle drug. You do have to use it appropriately. You want to take it as your doctor directs to ensure you are using it correctly.

You should also understand that if your doctor does not prescribe you acarbose or mention it as an option that there is probably a good reason for this. You may have a condition that isn't compatible. Remember, that acarbose is only for use in type 2 diabetics. If you have type 1, it won't do you any good.

Finally, acarbose weight loss is a nice perk of taking the drug, but it is not the main reason to take it. If you misuse this drug, it can lead to low blood sugar. If your blood sugar drops too low, you are at risk of seizures, coma, and death. So, make sure to use the medication responsibility.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.