Understanding Steroids and Diabetes

Web Resource Last Updated: 21-09-2020

Steroids are used to treat various conditions where there is inflammation in the body. They work by reducing this inflammation. Some examples of the conditions they are used to treat are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Inflammation of the bowel
  • Some types of malignant diseases
  • A few other auto-immune conditions

There are many different types of steroids. Some of the more common steroid drugs include:

  • Prednisolone
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Betamethasone
  • Dexamethesone
  • Deflazacort

Impact on Diabetes

Diabetes Side Effects

If you have diabetes and you are prescribed steroids, then you may notice a rise in your blood glucose levels, which will usually mean that your diabetes treatment needs to be adjusted. It is important that you check your blood glucose levels regularly. If you are concerned that your diabetes is getting out of control while you are on steroids, contact your diabetes care team.

Your blood glucose level may rise 24–48 hours after your first steroid injection or first dose of tablets, although this may be temporary. Inhaled steroids and steroid skin creams are unlikely to increase your blood glucose levels.

If your steroid treatment is intermittent, e.g. if you only take it with an acute recurrence of your illness, you may need to be on a different diabetes treatment regime while you are taking steroids.

If you have been on large doses of steroids but these doses are reduced as you get better, then treatment for your diabetes will also need to be reduced or you will be at risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose).

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