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All about: Precose

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Generic Name: acarbose (ah KAR bose)
Brand Names: Precose

What is Precose (acarbose)?

Acarbose delays the digestion of carbohydrates (forms of sugar) in the body. This decreases the amount of sugar that passes into the blood after a meal and prevents periods of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

Acarbose is used to treat type 2 diabetes.

Acarbose may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about Precose (acarbose)?

Take each dose of acarbose with the first bite of a meal.

Know the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which include shaking; headache; sweating; pale, cool skin; fast heartbeats; drowsiness; dizziness; weakness; hunger; confusion; nausea; nervousness or anxiety; or difficulty concentrating. Carry a piece of non-dietetic, sugary hard candy or glucose tablets with you to treat episodes of low blood sugar.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Precose (acarbose)?

Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you have

  • inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, or any other disease of the intestines;

  • ulcers of the colon;

  • a blockage or obstruction in the intestines;

  • liver disease; or
  • kidney disease.

You may not be able to take acarbose, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment if you have any of the conditions listed above.

Contact your doctor if you develop a fever or an infection, require surgery, or if you experience a serious injury. Illness or injury may cause a loss of blood sugar control and insulin (or an adjustment of a current insulin dose) may be required for a period of time.

Acarbose is in the FDA pregnancy category B. This means that it is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. Generally, insulin is the drug of choice for controlling diabetes during pregnancy. Do not take acarbose without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment. Acarbose passes into breast milk and may affect a nursing infant. Do not take acarbose without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take Precose (acarbose)?

Take acarbose exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these directions, ask your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor to explain them to you.

Take each dose with a full glass (8 ounces) of water. Take each dose with the first bite of a meal.

It is important to take acarbose regularly to get the most benefit.

Your doctor may recommend regular monitoring of blood sugar levels with blood or urine tests or other medical evaluations during treatment with acarbose to monitor progress and side effects.

Contact your doctor if you develop a fever or an infection, require surgery, or if you experience a serious injury. Illness or injury may cause a loss of blood sugar control and insulin (or an adjustment of a current insulin dose) may be required for a period of time.

Store acarbose at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

For maximum effectiveness, acarbose should be taken with the first bite of a meal. A missed dose taken within 15 minutes of the first bite of a meal will still be effective and should be taken as soon as remembered. If more than 15 minutes have passed since the first bite of the meal, a missed dose of acarbose may still be taken, although the effectiveness of the medication will be reduced. If a missed dose is not remembered until the next meal, skip the missed dose and take only the next regularly scheduled dose. Do not take a double dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if an overdose is suspected.

An overdose of this medication is unlikely to occur. Symptoms of an overdose are unknown, but stomach pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea might be expected.

What should I avoid while taking Precose (acarbose)?

Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely. Changing any of these factors can affect your blood sugar levels.

Tell your doctor and dentist that you are taking this medication before you undergo any surgery.

Do not take any over-the-counter cough, cold, allergy, pain, or weight-loss medications without first talking to your doctor.

Use alcohol cautiously. Alcohol may affect blood sugar levels.

Precose (acarbose) side effects

Stop taking acarbose and seek emergency medical attention if you experience an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives).

No other serious side effects have been reported from the use of acarbose. Consult your doctor if you experience any unusual or especially bothersome side effects.

Know the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which include shaking; headache; sweating; pale, cool skin; fast heartbeats; drowsiness; dizziness; weakness; hunger; confusion; nausea; nervousness or anxiety; or difficulty concentrating. Carry a piece of non-dietetic, sugary hard candy or glucose tablets with you to treat episodes of low blood sugar.

Some gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort or pain is likely to be experienced. Diarrhea may also occur. These side effects usually lessen with time.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect Precose (acarbose)?

Digestive-enzyme supplements such as pancreatin (amylase, protease, lipase) in products such as Arco-Lase, Cotazym, Donnazyme, Pancrease, Creon, Ku-Zyme, and others may decrease the effects of acarbose. These medications should not be taken at the same time as acarbose.

Before taking acarbose, tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines:

  • a thiazide diuretic (water pill) such as hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, Hydrodiuril, others), chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), indapamide (Lozol), and others;

  • a steroid medication such as prednisone (Deltasone), methylprednisolone (Medrol), and others;

  • an estrogen (Premarin, Ogen, others) or an estrogen-containing birth control pill;

  • a phenothiazine such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine), prochlorperazine (Compazine), promethazine (Phenergan, Promethegan), and others;

  • a thyroid medication (Synthroid, Levoxyl, others);

  • phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek); or

  • a calcium channel blocker such as verapamil (Calan, Verelan, Isoptin), diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor XR), nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat), and others.

The drugs listed above do not necessarily affect the actions of acarbose directly, but they are known to affect blood sugar levels. Special monitoring may be necessary.

Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with acarbose or affect your condition. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist has more information about acarbose written for health professionals that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Acarbose is available with a prescription under the brand name Precose. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Precose 50 mg--round, white, scored tablets

  • Precose 100 mg--round, white tablets

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.01. Revision Date: 4/16/04 1:38:02 PM.

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