Taking Steroids and Diabetes

Q. Can taking steroids cause Diabetes or increase blood glucose levels?
Daniel, St. Paul, MN

A: Yes, steroids-based medications, often referred to as corticosteroids, can significantly increase blood glucose levels in individuals with and without Diabetes. The higher the dose, the longer steroids are needed, and the older a person is, the greater the potential for raising blood glucose levels. If these medications are required in people with pre-existing diabetes, frequent blood glucose checks are needed and an increased dose of Diabetes medications will likely be required. Some individuals with Type 2 Diabetes will need to be placed on insulin in order to control blood glucose levels adequately. Those without Diabetes can develop steroid-induced diabetes. If the medications are needed long-term, it is essential to treat high blood glucose levels, just as a person with diabetes would be treated, in order to avoid diabetes complications.