Corticosteroids are employed for decreasing harmful inflammation but might give rise to diabetes, which is often called steroid diabetes. Individuals on steroids who are already at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes or people who require taking steroids for a longer duration are the most vulnerable ones to developing steroid-induced diabetes.
What is the role of steroids?
Steroids help in lowering down inflammation and are triggered by the body's immune system. These can be utilized as a treatment for several health conditions such as:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
To attain their purpose, corticosteroids mimic the activity of cortisol, a hormone formed by the kidneys. Cortisol is responsible for bringing on a person’s body’s classic stress response of higher blood pressure as well as raised blood sugar levels. Corticosteroids help in increasing insulin resistance, as a result allowing blood sugar levels to elevate and remain higher. Also read about how to activate pancreas?
What are the signs of steroid-induced diabetes?
Individuals consuming steroids might observe any of the following signs of diabetes:
- Weariness and lethargy
- Hazy vision
- Enhanced thirst
- Urinating more often
- Dry mouth
On the other hand, signs might not be present unless blood glucose levels are considerably higher than normal.
Is steroid-induced diabetes permanent?
High blood sugar levels while consuming steroids might lessen after a person stops consuming steroids, on the other hand, few individuals can develop type 2 diabetes which will require management for life. It is more likely that type 2 diabetes may develop following the long-term utility of steroids, including the usage of oral corticosteroids for more than three months.
Who is at risk of developing steroid-induced type 2 diabetes?
People at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes can be:
- People who are obese
- If a person has one or more close family members with type 2 diabetes
- If a person has a history of gestational diabetes
- If a person has polycystic ovary syndrome
- If a person is above 40 and of caucasian origin
- If a person is above 25 and is of South Asian, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern origin
When do steroids begin affecting blood sugar?
Steroids might begin affecting one’s blood sugar pretty rapidly after starting treatment, even though it depends on what treatment course one’s is following. For oral steroids, the levels of blood glucose might start rising within some days of treatment. The effects are based upon the dose and type of steroid one is consuming. Steroid injections begin to have an effect on the glucose levels soon after the injection and can remain high for three to ten days later. Topical steroid creams or gels or inhaled steroids do not characteristically have an impact on blood sugar levels.
How to treat steroid-induced diabetes?
The diabetes treatment a person is put on might be based upon the degree of insulin resistance and how high a person’s sugar levels are. It might be likely to treat diabetes using diet as well as physical activity regime, however one might require oral anti-diabetic drugs or insulin. If a person has been diagnosed with diabetes, he or she must attend health screenings at least one time every year, so that overall health can be monitored and treated suitably.
A healthy balanced diet helps in controlling the level of blood sugar. The following are some of the easy steps one can take to control his or her blood sugar level:
- Eat regular meals and do not skip meals.
- Try consuming starchy carb food with every meal. These foods result in a gradual rise in glucose levels, for example, rice, cereals, bread, noodles, pasta, potato, pitta bread, plantain. Where possible opt for wholegrain or granary versions of rice, pasta, bread, cereal: these foods are rich in fiber.
- Keep sugary food products for an occasional treat as these would result in a sudden rise in glucose levels.
- Include fruit and veggies in the diet. These are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fibers. Fruits consist of a natural source of sugar; thus, it is better to space out the fruit portions all over the day instead of consuming these in one go. Try consuming one small glass of fruit juice one time a day.
- Avoid drinking sugary beverages including full fizzy drinks or squashes. Rather, opt for ‘diet’, ‘zero’, or ‘no added’ sugar-type drinks.
- Avoid including sugar, honey, or syrups in tea or coffee: artificial sweeteners are safe to use.