7 Drugs That Can Raise Blood Sugar Levels, Can They Trigger Diabetes?

Understand the risks before taking any medication

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Everyone diagnosed with diabetes understands that they need to find out what foods and drinks can raise blood sugar. In addition, it is important to know that some prescription medications can also raise blood sugar.

For these reasons, it is important to inform the healthcare provider who prescribes your medication, such as your doctor, dentist, or nurse, that you have diabetes.

At the same time, it is important for the healthcare practitioner treating the diabetic patient to be aware of all the medications being taken by the patient and how they are being affected.

1. Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are used to treat various conditions associated with inflammation, such as arthritis, asthma, allergies, and joint injuries. Corticosteroids used in inhalers or skin creams generally do not affect blood glucose as they do not enter the bloodstream in large enough amounts. However, corticosteroids in injectable form or ingested by mouth can significantly increase blood glucose, quoting Everyday Health.

If used as a short-term treatment, the effect will not be too long and may not have much effect. However, if used for several days or weeks, then blood sugar levels may increase.

2. Antipsychotics

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Individuals with certain mental conditions, such as schizophrenia, rely on antipsychotics to manage symptoms. Unfortunately, these medications are also known to raise blood sugar levels.

These medications are often used for months or years, which may trigger some problems. As Health Grades explains, if you have to take these medications, blood sugar levels will likely be measured before and after starting the medication.

3. Birth control pills

A number of studies have shown that women who take birth control pills have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even after controlling for various risk factors.

It is not clear why birth control pills increase the risk of diabetes, but it may be related to the progestogen component of the pill.

Another possibility is that birth control pills can cause an increase in estradiol levels, which can lead to insulin resistance in the liver or a reduction in the efficiency of glucose utilization and transport in muscle cells.

Nonetheless, more research is needed on the effect of birth control pills on blood sugar. In any case, women should not simply change their decision about contraceptive methods.

4. Blood pressure medication

illustration of blood pressure medication (unsplash.com/towfiqu barbhuiya)

Statins and beta-blockers are drugs used to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. They are very important for preventing strokes or events related to heart problems. However, on the other hand, these drugs can increase blood sugar levels.

According to Medical News Today, statin treatment is linked to increased blood sugar and the risk of developing diabetes. The researchers found that statins prevent insulin from doing its job.

Blood pressure medications with diuretic properties also trigger an increase in blood sugar levels. This is because diuretic drugs can cause dehydration, which then causes an increase in blood glucose levels.

5. Antibiotics

Several types of antibiotics have been known to cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Here are some of them, according to MedicineNet:

  • Ciprofloxacin.
  • Moxifloxacin.
  • Levofloxacin.

Since blood sugar levels are individualized, results can vary greatly. The most important thing is to always recognize the signs when blood sugar spikes.

6. Niacin

niacin illustration (unsplash.com/Karim Ghantous)

Niacin is a B vitamin available as a supplement that can be purchased over the counter. It has cholesterol-lowering effects, but it can also increase blood glucose in people with diabetes. 

A study concluded that treatment with niacin increased blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes. In healthy people, treatment with niacin increases the risk of developing diabetes (Heart, 2016).

7. Decongestants

Decongestant medications, including sudafed and phenylephrine, are used to relieve nasal congestion. Both can be purchased without a prescription.

Unfortunately, some types of decongestants can increase blood sugar levels. According to Everyday Health, short-term use may not cause problems, but it's best to check with your doctor first.

Those are the types of drugs that can increase blood sugar levels. For those of you who have diabetes or prediabetes, you should be careful before taking any medication. Be honest with your doctor about your condition and ask how a medication will affect you.

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