Blood Sugar: Be Careful With These 11 Medications

Patients who have diabetes must closely monitor their blood sugar levels. Any sudden changes are a cause for concern. As a result, it’s important for people with diabetes to consult with their physicians when taking medications. Even common over-the-counter medicines may cause spikes in blood sugar, and those spikes can cause problems with diabetes medications as well. Take a look at these 11 medications that may affect your blood sugar. Awareness can help you remember to be attentive when turning to these substances for certain ailments.

11. Pseudoephedrine

Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant and an active ingredient in many cold and flu medications. It has the potential to raise blood glucose and blood pressure, so be sure to check your levels often when taking these types of drugs. They may be over-the-counter, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be dangerous. It’s probably worth talking to your doctor about the advisability of taking these medications when you have the opportunity. Or, instead of pseudoephedrine, try an antihistamine.

10. Cough Syrup


Cough syrup may be fine to use, unless your blood sugar numbers are already high. It’s important to know that there’s a difference between regular and sugar-free cough syrups. If you are not taking the sugar-free kind, cough syrup can increase blood glucose. In addition to checking your blood sugar regularly, take into account the added sugar from cough syrup when calculating your daily diet plan, so you keep your numbers within the range your doctor recommends.

9. Caffeine

Any medication or beverage that has caffeine-like (andrenergic) effects may be best to avoid when you’re sick. Caffeine can cause anxiety, jitters, an accelerated heart rate, high blood pressure, and affect your blood glucose levels. Although, some studies say caffeine may help keep blood sugar levels normal prior to one developing diabetes. However, once a person becomes diabetic, limiting your caffeine intake may be beneficial.

8. Prednisone

Doctors warn that prednisone, a corticosteroid (or steroid) which is often prescribed for colds or asthma, can increase your levels of blood glucose. If you are prescribed this steroid, discuss with your doctor how to maintain healthy blood-glucose levels.

7. Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone is another steroid that increases blood sugar. It’s usually used for allergies and skin conditions. In addition to affecting blood sugar, dexamethasone can have serious interactions with alcohol.

6. Other Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids often affect blood glucose. Some steroids affect blood sugar more than others, so talk to your doctor about which ones are safe for you. Be sure to ask about all forms of these medications. Like the ingested pill forms, inhaled corticosteroids are known to have an effect and should be monitored.

5. Beta Blockers

Beta blockers are a popular class of medication for high blood pressure. While beta blockers may reduce blood pressure, they can also block signs that your body is experiencing low blood-sugar levels.

4. Thiazide Diuretics

Thiazide diuretics are also used to combat high blood pressure, as the medication thins your blood and makes your metabolism speed up. These meds can also increase levels of blood glucose.

3. Anti-psychotics

Researchers believe anti-psychotic medications clozapine and olanzapine can increase the risk of hyperglycemia for some patients. Monitor closely, and talk to your doctor!

2. Protease Inhibitors

Doctors use protease inhibitors to treat HIV and hepatitis C. These drugs can inhibit your ability to release insulin and lead to high glucose levels. Talk to your doctor; your insulin may need to be adjusted to compensate for any effect these drugs may have on you.

1. Tacrolimus

Organ donation is the gift of life. But something to note: tacrolimus is an immunosuppressant commonly used for transplant patients to avoid rejecting organs. These drugs can increase blood glucose. If you are an organ recipient, be sure to talk to your doctor about how to safely use this prescription.

It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor when you take a new medication, but this is especially true when you have an underlying health condition such as diabetes. One study even showed that some blood pressure treatments could cause heart failure in diabetics. It is definitely worth taking the time to discuss your risks, benefits, and medication options with your physician on a regular basis.

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