Living with diabetes means that patients watch their diet, exercise and diabetes medications.
Like anyone else, a person with diabetes might develop a cold or a temporary illness that in order to overcome requires a dose of steroid medication. Many times people living with diabetes are unaware of the possible impact of these medications on their blood glucose levels (BG).
Steroids are commonly used to treat inflammation and immune disorders or diseases. They are a group of medications called corticostroids or glucocoticoids.
Some of the recognizable names are prednisone, hydrocortisone and dexamethasone. These are not the same class of anabolic steroids that build muscle mass and impact athletic performance.
Although a short-term dose of steroids can be an effective treatment for an illness, steroids can elevate BG levels.
According to the Australian Diabetes council “Steroids raise blood glucose levels in three ways:
“1. They block the action of your insulin which causes insulin resistance.
“2. Less glucose is able to move out of the bloodstream to be taken up by the muscles. This results in a high blood glucose level.
“3. They cause the liver to start releasing extra glucose into the bloodstream.
“Inhaled steroids used for asthma have not been found to affect blood glucose levels. However your blood glucose levels can start to rise within a few days of commencing oral steroids and will change depending on the time, dose and type of steroid you are taking. A steroid injection into the joint or muscle may cause blood glucose levels to rise soon after administration and its effects may last from 3 to 10 days.”
When you receive a new prescription from a physician, be sure to ask if the medication will impact BG levels.
If you are living with diabetes, be prepared to increase your insulin dosage or diabetes medication. Be prepared to check your BG more frequently. Contact your physician if you are unable to lower your BG.
Even if you do not live with diabetes, be aware of the potential side effects of taking steroids on BG.