What Is Acarbose (alpha-Glucosidase Inhibitor) And When Is It Used?

Question:What is Acarbose (alpha-glucosidase inhibitor) and when is it used?

Answer:Another group of medications that is used to treat diabetes is called the alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. Now that's a fancy name for a drug, the brand name of which is Acarbose. The way that these drugs work is by blocking the rate of absorption of carbohydrate, the starch in your meals, blocking its rate of absorption from the small bowel so that the carbohydrate, instead of being absorbed fairly close to the stomach, goes further down stream into your colon where it is finally absorbed.

What these drugs do is they slow down the rate of absorption of the carbohydrate and therefore the rate of increase of blood sugar after a meal is also slowed down. Since this is one of the problems with type 2 diabetes, what we do with these drugs, again it decreases the rate of rise of blood sugar after the meal and it lowers your blood sugar levels.

Now these drugs have actually fairly frequent side effects and the side effects are stomach distress and increased gas. People often notice this, that after they have a carbohydrate meal and they take on of these pills, which is usually taken two or three times a day, they'll notice that there's increased gas, which can be uncomfortable. So the way you know that these drugs are working is when your blood sugar drops. And people should be cautious about the side effects. They're not harmful, but they may be bothersome.

Next: How Does Insulin Work, When Is It Needed, And How Is It Given?


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