People with diabetes often take other medications to support their heart, weight, blood pressure, and more. While these medications are important to your overall health, they can also make controlling your blood sugars more difficult.
In fact, some of the most common non-diabetes medications taken by people living with type 2 diabetes are well known for raising blood sugar in most patients, whether they have or don’t have diabetes.
Here are the six most common medications that have negative impacts on blood glucose control for people managing their type 2 diabetes.
Blood Pressure Medications
About 67% of adults with type 2 diabetes struggle with high blood pressure. So it is no surprise that a large majority of people with diabetes take medications to help lower their blood pressure to decrease their risk of heart attack and stroke.
Unfortunately, some of the most common blood pressure medications are known to increase blood glucose levels.
Beta-blockers, which include medications like Lopressor and Tenormin, and thiazide diuretics, like Thalitone and Microzide, both have a tendency to increase blood sugar levels.
Beta-blockers can reduce the body’s ability to secrete insulin, which can lead to some people needing to supplement with insulin shots, while those already on insulin may have to up their dose.
Diuretics work by flushing sodium and, by extension, potassium from the body. Since potassium is vital for glucose uptake into cells, these meds can cause blood sugar levels to rise.
Taking a potassium supplement with your diuretic can be helpful.
Coreg is Better Option
Coreg is a blood pressure medication that does not appear to affect blood sugar levels. It may be a better choice for those struggling to keep their sugars in range.
Statins are well known for their blood sugar raising effects.
Like certain beta-blockers, these cholesterol meds appear to decrease insulin secretions, making it even harder for your body to deal with excess glucose in the blood. Additionally, statins can also increase insulin resistance, further elevating blood sugars.
Unfortunately, this effect is not just isolated to cholesterol-fighting prescriptions.
Niacin, or vitamin B3, is an over-the-counter supplement that works to decrease bad cholesterol. It also affects glucose tolerance within the body.
When niacin is taken in high doses, elevated blood sugars often occur.
While it isn’t always possible to ditch cholesterol medications entirely, focusing on a plant-based diet that is naturally low in bad cholesterol can help reduce the need for these medications while also helping to improve blood sugar levels.
Many people with type 2 diabetes deal with recurring or frequent infections.
Unfortunately, some of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics have a tendency to not only raise blood sugar levels but to cause dangerous blood sugar fluctuations.
Fluoroquinolones, a class of antibiotics that includes drugs such as Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox, have been shown to cause severe blood sugar spikes and drops leading to dangerous hyper and hypoglycemia in people with diabetes.
These types of antibiotics are typically prescribed to treat urinary tract infections and community-acquired pneumonia, which are both conditions that are more common in type 2 diabetes.
Dapsone and Rifampin
Dapsone and Rifampin also appear to affect blood sugars but not to the same degree.
Discuss with your Doctor
In many cases, there are alternative antibiotics that can be used that are safer for people living with diabetes. Most doctors will weigh the pros and cons of these choices and only use fluoroquinolones if absolutely necessary.
It is always a good idea to ask your healthcare team about the likely impact of any medication on your blood sugar management.
Steroids are another frequently prescribed medication for people living with type 2 diabetes. These anti-inflammatory meds are often used to treat arthritis, skin conditions, asthma, and other diseases characterized by swelling and inflammation.
Prednisone, betamethasone, and hydrocortisone, among others, are well known for driving up blood sugar levels. These meds tend to make the liver resistant to insulin which can lead to lower glucose utilization and cause the liver to secrete more glucose into the blood.
Luckily, topical and inhaled steroids have much less of an effect on blood sugar levels because much less of these medications get into the bloodstream.
While your typical cup of coffee or tea isn’t likely to have a dramatic impact on your blood sugars, highly concentrated amounts of caffeine can.
Many weight control and diet supplements utilize stimulants such as caffeine to aid in weight loss and increase energy levels. While losing weight almost always lowers blood glucose levels, using high doses of caffeine to get there can cause dangerous blood sugar spikes along the way.
Caffeine not only increases insulin resistance but can reduce glucose utilization after meals, leading to sustained spikes after eating.
Before you choose a supplement to help you lose weight, make sure you are choosing one with modest levels of caffeine.
If you are particularly sensitive to the blood sugar raising effects of caffeine, it may even be worth skipping your morning cup of joe and opting for caffeine-free tea instead.
Many people rely on antidepressant medications, especially those who have only recently been diagnosed. While these meds are important for helping people overcome or at least deal with the emotional imbalances that are often present when living with diabetes, they can also make things worse by increasing blood sugar levels and making it more difficult to find success in treating the disease.
There is a wealth of evidence from the scientific community that seems to indicate that antidepressants increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially in those that are already prediabetic.
It is well-known that antidepressants tend to cause weight gain, another risk factor for type 2 development. Some evidence also seems to indicate that this increased risk exists independent of weight gain, meaning that there may be other factors at play.
Like many other medications on this list, whether or not to use antidepressants comes down to weighing the risks of elevated blood sugars against the risks of not using the drug. This is something that everyone should talk to their doctor about before adding or changing any medications.