The term “steroid” is a generic phrase; the medical term “glucocorticoid” is more precise. Glucocorticoids are anti-inflammatory hormones that are produced naturally in the body (by the kidney’s adrenal glands). They also control metabolism (which includes glucose metabolism). Synthetic steroids that operate like hormones and reduce inflammation are available in addition to the natural steroids produced by the body. Prednisone, hydrocortisone, and dexamethasone are some typical generic names for glucocorticoids that impact the entire body system (called systemic). Inhaled glucocorticoids, such as beclomethasone, budesonide, and fluticasone, have a direct effect on the lungs. In this article, we will concentrate on systemic (i.e., oral, injected, or inhaled) glucocorticoids, which are commonly known as “steroids”, because they’re the most likely to affect glucose levels.
How Do Steroids Affect Blood Sugar Levels?
By making the liver resistant to insulin, prednisone and other steroids can produce an increase in blood sugar levels. Insulin is produced by the pancreas to keep blood sugar levels in check. Diabetes can be caused by a flaw in the body’s insulin response or a problem with insulin production in the pancreas. The pancreas secretes insulin, which goes to the liver when blood sugar levels are high. When insulin reaches the liver, it causes a reduction in the quantity of sugar released by this organ to feed the cells. Sugar, on the other hand, enters the cells directly from the bloodstream. This procedure lowers general blood sugar levels.
Your blood glucose levels are likely to rise if you have diabetes and are taking steroid medication. Steroid drugs can cause insulin resistance and cause the liver to release stored glucose into the bloodstream, leading blood glucose levels to rise. Depending on how you take these medications, the time it takes for them to start altering your blood glucose levels varies.
Within a few days of starting oral steroids, blood glucose levels may begin to rise. The time, dose, and type of steroid you’re taking will all have an impact on your blood glucose levels.
Blood glucose levels may spike immediately after the injection and remain elevated for 3-10 days.
Creams for skin diseases inhaled steroids for asthma, and ear and eye drops have been shown to have little effect on blood glucose levels.
If you must take steroid medicine, talk to your doctor about how it may affect your blood glucose levels and how to control it. Your doctor or pharmacist can provide you with a drug information sheet.
When do steroids start affecting blood sugar?
Steroids might alter your blood sugar levels immediately after you start treatment, depending on the course of treatment you’re on. Within a few days of using oral steroids, blood sugar levels may begin to rise. The effects will vary depending on the dosage and type of steroid used. Blood sugar levels are affected by steroid injections immediately after the injection and can remain high for 3-10 days afterward. Topical steroid creams or gels, as well as inhalation steroids, usually do not affect blood sugar levels.
Management of diabetes while on steroids
- Glucose levels should be checked more frequently than normal. Experts advocate doing this process four or more times every day.
- Depending on your blood sugar levels and other health concerns, work with your doctor to increase the dosage of insulin or oral D-medication.
- To make sure your BG levels aren’t dangerously high, check your urine or blood ketones.
- If your blood sugar levels climb too high while on steroids and additional insulin or oral medicine doses don’t help, see a doctor right once.
- As a person’s steroid dosage is gradually reduced, the comparable dose of insulin or oral medication should be gradually reduced until it returns to the original dosage. It is critical to never abruptly discontinue using steroids, as this can result in serious sickness.
- Carry glucose tablets, juice, or candy with you at all times in case your blood sugar levels drop unexpectedly as a result of the additional D-medication.
If you have diabetes, you should be aware that taking steroids might cause your blood sugar to spike, which can be dangerous. There are various complexities to preventing this impact depending on the medications you’re taking, so it’s always important to speak with your healthcare providers about any concerns you have about steroid use and diabetes control.