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Drugs That Raise Your Blood Sugar

By

Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN

Was this helpful? (283)
Several medicine bottles

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you probably know about the different types of food and drink that can increase your blood sugar (glucose). But did you know some prescription medicines can do this as well? 

This is why you should tell everyone who prescribes medicines for you—doctors, dentists, or nurse practitioners—that you have diabetes. At the same time, it’s important for the doctor or nurse practitioner managing your diabetes treatment to know of any new medicines you may be taking that were prescribed by someone else.

There are many medicines that can raise blood sugar and cause hyperglycemia, or blood sugar levels above normal. If you aren’t sure about a medication you’ve been prescribed, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it will affect your blood sugar before you start taking it. 

Making healthy lifestyle choices is key to managing type 2 diabetes, but it can be hard to stay on track. Dr. Anthony Cardillo explains that focusing on diet, exercise and stress reduction can help you maintain control of your diabetes.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 13, 2015

2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

Common medicines that raise blood sugar levels include:

Steroids

Corticosteroids, called steroids for short, are often prescribed to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, among others. While they can be very effective in managing those types of problems, they can also wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. Luckily, when the steroid doses decrease or when you're told you can stop taking the medication, usually your sugar levels will return to their previous readings. Some examples of steroids include prednisone and prednisolone.

Antipsychotics

Patients with certain mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, rely on medications such as antipsychotics to manage their symptoms. While these medicines can be life saving, they are also known to raise blood sugar levels, especially clozapine (Clozaril, FazaClo, Versacloz), olanzapine (Zyprexa, Zyprexa, Zydis), risperidone (Risperdal), aripiprazole (Abilify), quetiapine fumarate (Seroquel), and ziprasidone (Geodone). If you must take one of these medicines, particularly olanzapine, you'll likely have your blood sugar levels measured before you start taking the medication, and then regularly thereafter.

Blood Pressure Medications

Diuretics—medications that help you manage your blood pressure by eliminating fluid from your body (which causes you to urinate more frequently)—may also cause your blood sugar levels to go up. Common ones include furosemide (Lasix) and hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ). 

Heart Medications

Not all medications that treat heart problems affect your blood sugar levels, but certain ones, like those in the beta-blocker class, do. Beta-blockers include medications such as acebutolol (Sectral), atenolol (Tenormin), bisoprolol (Zebeta), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL), nadolol (Corgard), and propranolol (Inderal LA, InnoPran XL).

Oral Contraceptives (Birth Control Pills)

Birth control pills can increase your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. Although the increase isn’t usually a big one, experts say you should be aware this is a known side effect before starting this type of medication.

Signs to Watch For

Whether your new medicine is known to raise blood sugar levels or not, whenever you start a new prescription or type of medicine, it’s smart to watch for signs of hyperglycemia, including:

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Diabetics often visit doctors other than their primary care provider. If you are given a new prescription for any reason—and especially if you’re diabetic—ask the following questions before leaving the office:

  • Why am I taking this medicine?
  • For how long should I take it?
  • Could this medicine make my blood sugar go up or down?
  • What should I do if I feel like my blood sugar is changing because of this medication?
  • Should I have regular blood tests before I start taking the medicine and while I am taking it?
  • Should I be checking my blood sugar more frequently at home?

It’s vital you understand what medications you are taking, why you are taking them, and what potential side effects there are.  This is particularly important if you have diabetes, because keeping good control of your sugar levels can be a delicate balancing act sometimes. If a new medicine affects your blood sugar, you may need to make adjustments to your diabetes care plan. 

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Was this helpful? (283)
Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Jan 20, 2016

© 2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Link M. Drug-Induced Hyperglycemia. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.http://www.arrx.org/assets/AAHP/diabetes_pearls.pdf
  2. Factors Affecting Blood Glucose. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/factors-affect...
  3. Coggins MD. Steroid-Related Risks. Today’s Geriatric Medicine. Vol. 7 No. 4 P. 8. http://www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com/archive/0714p8.shtml
  4. Schizophrenia. University of Maryland Medical Center. https://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/schizophrenia
  5. Types of Blood Pressure Medications. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Ty...
  6. Carvedilol. MedlinePlus. A division of the US Library of Medicine. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a697042.html
  7. Beta Blockers. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/beta-blockers/art-2004452...
  8. Estrogen and Oral Contraceptives. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/estrogen-and-progestin-oral-contraceptives-oral-route/be...
  9. Diabetes. FamilyDoctor.org. A division of the American Academy of Family Physicians. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/diabetes.printerview.all.html
  10. Drugs That Affect Blood Glucose. dLife. http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/type-2/diabetes-treatment/drugs-that-raise-blood-glucose

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