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Acarbose and Blood Sugar

During treatment with acarbose, blood sugar levels can change. If you are taking other diabetes drugs along with acarbose, low blood sugar is more likely to occur than if you are only taking acarbose. Taken alone, acarbose is unlikely to cause low blood sugar. High blood sugar levels can potentially occur regardless of the medicine you are taking.

Does Acarbose Have an Effect of Blood Sugar Levels?

One of the possible side effects of acarbose (Precose®) is a change in blood sugar levels. In general, this medication does not cause blood sugar levels to drop too low (hypoglycemia). However, it is possible for blood sugar to go too high (hyperglycemia) in some people taking acarbose.

Low Blood Sugar and Acarbose

Unlike many other diabetes medications, acarbose is unlikely to cause low blood sugar. However, there is a higher chance of developing low blood sugar when acarbose is combined with other diabetes drugs. Low blood sugar is also more common in elderly people and in people with adrenal, pituitary, liver, or kidney problems -- as well as during fasting before surgery and after prolonged exercise.
Low blood sugar symptoms can vary depending on a number of factors, including how low the levels are. Some examples of early symptoms of low blood sugar include:
  • Sweating
  • Shakiness
  • Extreme hunger
  • Dizziness
  • Cold sweats
  • Blurry vision.
More severe symptoms can include:
  • Changes in behavior, such as irritability
  • Loss of coordination
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Loss of life.
If, during treatment with acarbose, low blood sugar symptoms occur, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately or seek emergency medical care and stop taking the medicine. If your healthcare provider believes that low blood sugar is causing your symptoms, he or she may recommend that you treat the low blood sugar by taking glucose tablets.
Because acarbose slows down the absorption of sucrose (also known as table sugar, or the type of sugar that is in most food and drinks), glucose tablets instead of food or drinks should be used to help correct low blood sugar in people taking acarbose.
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