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Is Acarbose Different from Precose?

Is Acarbose Different from Precose?
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 6 min read

Diabetes is a medical condition requiring you to take control of your body. To be healthy and avoid serious effects of the disease, you must find a way to stabilize your blood sugar and prevent extreme highs and lows.

Doctors may have you try various things to control your blood sugar, such as oral medication, injections, diet changes, and exercise. Typically, you will begin with the least evasive options, which are diet and exercise changes.

If these attempts do not produce the needed results, your doctor may suggest adding medication. One of the most common prescriptions for Type 2 diabetes management is acarbose, known as the brand name Precose.

Acarbose General Information

You will find Acarbose sold under the brand name Precose and as a generic drug. It is only available by prescription and requires a doctor to monitor you while you take it.

WebMD explains that acarbose controls high blood sugar when you use it with a proper diet and regular exercise routine. It is an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor that works in the intestines to slow how the body breaks down and absorbs carbohydrates, which raise your blood sugar. Your doctor may prescribe it when diet alone is not controlling your blood sugar.

Acarbose Usage

Acarbose, or Precose, comes in pill form, and you take it by mouth with the first bite of each meal three times a day. If you miss a dose and realize it during a meal, you can take the dose, but you should never double doses or take a missed dose close to another dose.

You must take this medication with food and take it as the whole pill. You should never crush a pill to take it.

You must follow your doctor's directions exactly for the best results. You also need to use this medication regularly for it to have an effect.

The dosage you take is set by your doctor based on your current condition and control over your blood sugar. Dosage options for generic and name brand acarbose are 25mg, 50mg, and 100 mg.

Your doctor will usually start you at the low dose and adjust as needed based on your reaction to the drug. Your doctor may adjust the dosage based on your lifestyle, blood sugar results, and any acarbose side effects that you experience.

Healthline explains that your doctor may advise you to take this drug in combination with other medications if it fails to produce the desired results. The most common combination is acarbose and sulfonylurea.

Acarbose Side Effects

As with any medication, you can expect that there will be some acarbose side effects. The most common side effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach pain

Acarbose side effects are common when you first begin to take the medication. Your body will need to adjust to the drug, which should help the side effects go away.

You may also experience side effects more often if you do not follow your doctor's instructions for diet and exercise. Eating too much or too little will always have an impact on your blood sugar. Exercise also affects blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar levels vary too much, it means acarbose cannot work properly. You need to stabilize both diet and exercise to get the most benefit from this drug.

There are also some serious acarbose side effects that may require medical intervention:

  • Liver problems
  • Continuous vomiting or nausea
  • Yellow eyes
  • Yellow skin
  • Dark urine
  • Continuous diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Blood or mucus in the stool

If you experience any of these issues, you should contact your doctor immediately as they may indicate a serious medical condition.

Allergic reactions are another possible issue you may experience. Most often, these will produce a skin rash, but you may also have a more severe allergic reaction. At any sign of a reaction, you should contact your doctor or seek emergency care.

You should note that low blood sugar is not one of the acarbose side effects. The medication alone does not lead to drops in blood sugar, but it can cause issues if you mix it with other diabetic medications without a doctor approval. In addition, if you are eating a diet too low in calories or not getting enough exercise, your blood sugar may go too low when taking this drug.

Acarbose Interactions and Warnings

Acarbose, like any drug, may interact with other medications that you take. It is essential that you always tell your doctor about any drugs you take, including those over-the-counter. Do not assume your doctor will have a list handy that shows every medication you take.

Some medications that may interact negatively with acarbose include:

  • Charcoal
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Pramlintide
  • Levothyroxine
  • Hormonal medications, such as estrogen or birth control pills
  • Diuretics
  • Corticosteroids
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Seizure drugs
  • Niacin
  • Sympathomimetics
  • Blood pressure drugs
  • Isoniazid

The interaction that is most common with other medications and acarbose is causing your blood sugar levels to go too high. High blood sugar can lead to dizziness, weakness, extreme thirst and hunger, blurred vision, and increased urination.

Due to a lack of research and studies, you may want to avoid using acarbose if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The effects on the baby are not known. You should work with your doctor to determine if taking the medication will work for your situation.

You should also avoid acarbose if you have a history of intestinal or bowel issues, kidney problems, or liver disease. In addition, there are no dosage or usage recommendations for people under the age of 18 due to a lack of studies with this age group.

Make sure that you are completely honest with your doctor about your health history. You should always disclose every medical issue, even if you are not sure it will matter. In addition, your doctor may recommend you use this medication even if you have some of these conditions.

Your doctor may know how to safely prescribe the medication and use monitoring to allow you to use it even if you have some of the medical conditions listed above. Let your doctor determine if acarbose is right for you and if you can safely use it, but feel free to ask questions if you are unsure about anything.

Acarbose: Generic vs Brand Name

Both the generic version of acarbose and Precose will result in the exact same side effects, interactions, and other effects. There is no notable difference between the two versions of the medication except for cost. Generic medication will typically cost less than Precose.

However, some people do not react properly to generic medications. If you have concerns about taking generic, you can discuss this with your doctor.

Acarbose Can Help

If you struggle with Type 2 diabetes, acarbose may be a good solution. However, it is essential that you work with your doctor, and remember that this is a drug.

It is important that while using acarbose that you follow medical instructions. You must follow a specific diet and exercise routine to ensure the medication can work properly.

Be sure to report any concerns with the medication, including potential side effects, to your doctor. Seek medical care for allergic reactions and serious Acarbose side effects.

It may take time for your doctor to get the dosage correct, so you may have to see your doctor multiple times before you find the correct amount of acarbose to take. You should not expect to see immediate results in most cases.

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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.