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What is Precose®?

By Emma Lloyd
Updated May 17, 2024
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Precose® is an oral alpha-glucosidase inhibitor used to treat type 2 diabetes. This medication helps control blood sugar levels by slowing down the conversion of dietary carbohydrates into sugars. Precose® is also known under its generic name, acarbarose.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease caused by reduced cellular sensitivity to a pancreatic hormone called insulin. The main function of this hormone is to promote cellular uptake of blood sugar. When cells become resistant to insulin, they do not take up blood sugar as efficiently, and sugars remain in the blood. High levels of blood sugar disrupt the body’s fluid balance, causing dehydration, increased thirst, more frequent urination and blurred vision. Weight loss in conjunction with increased hunger and fatigue are common symptoms because of the inability of cells to use sugars for energy. Long-term complications include nerve damage and organ damage because of inflammation caused by chronically high blood sugar.

Precose® inhibits the action of an enzyme called alpha-glucosidase, which is involved in a digestive process that converts carbohydrates into glucose. By inhibiting the enzyme, the rate at which conversion occurs is slowed down. This decreases the rate at which sugars enter the blood, helping to reduce blood sugar spikes that occur after meals. Most people who take this medication do so three times a day with meals.

This oral diabetes medication is prescribed on an individual basis, because medication requirements vary depending on an individual’s weight, level of insulin resistance and other factors. Generally, someone who is prescribed Precose® will start on a low dose of the medication, then his or her doctor will increase the prescribed dose as needed. Alternatively, a patient might undergo a post-prandial glucose test. In this test, the patient’s blood sugar is tested one hour after a meal to determine the ideal dosage.

The most common side effect of this medication is gastrointestinal upset. Many people experience symptoms such as flatulence, diarrhea and abdominal pain when they first begin taking the drug. Gastrointestinal symptoms occur because of the presence of undigested carbohydrates in the gastrointestinal tract. For most people, the severity of these symptoms decreases over time. People with digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease should not take this medication, because of the exacerbation of side effects and because digestive disorders can interfere with the activity of the drug.

People who take diuretics, corticosteroids, thyroid medications, oral contraceptives or hormone replacements, calcium-channel blockers and certain other medications should be aware that these drugs can interact with Precose®. Anyone taking other medications should ensure that his or her doctor is aware of this. Some drug interactions can affect the efficacy of alpha-glucosidase inhibitor medications, and this can result in dangerously low blood sugar.

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