Drug Induced Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes may be brought on by certain medications
Type 2 diabetes may be brought on by certain medications

A number of medications have side effects which include the raising of blood glucose levels. Drug induced diabetes is when use of a specific medication has lead to the development of diabetes.

In some cases the development of diabetes may be reversible if use of the medication is discontinued, but in other cases drug-induced diabetes may be permanent.

Drug induced diabetes is a form of secondary diabetes, in other words diabetes that is a consequence of having another health condition.

Which drugs can induce diabetes?

A number of drugs have been linked with an increased risk development of type 2 diabetes.

Is diabetes permanent?

Diabetes may not be permanent but this can depend on other health factors.

With some medications, blood glucose levels may return back to normal once the medication is stopped but, in some cases, the development of diabetes may be permanent.

Managing drug induced diabetes

If you need to continue taking the medication that has brought on diabetes, it may make your diabetes more difficult to control than would otherwise be the case.

If you are able to stop the course of medication, you may find your blood glucose levels become slightly easier to manage.

Following a healthy diet and meeting the recommended exercise guidelines will help to improve your chances of managing your blood glucose levels.

Can drug induced diabetes be prevented?

It may be possible to reduce the risk of developing diabetes by ensuring you to keep to a healthy lifestyle whilst you are on the medication.

Being on smaller doses of the medication or shorter periods of time may help to reduce the likelihood of developing high blood sugar levels and diabetes. Doctors will usually try to put you on the smallest effective dose where possible to help reduce complications such as diabetes from developing.

If you are at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, you may wish to discuss how the medication and dosage may affect your risk of developing diabetes.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are a powerful group of medications used to treat a range of conditions characterised by inflammation such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Corticosteroids can raise blood glucose levels which may return to normal after the steroid treatment is concluded.

However, particularly if corticosteroids are taken over longer periods of time, steroid treatment can sometimes lead to the development of type 2 diabetes permanently.

Whilst on steroid medication, you may need to take diabetes medication which may include insulin.

When you come off the steroids course of treatment, you may be able to go onto less strong diabetes medication or come off blood glucose lowering medication altogether.

Beta blockers

Beta-blockers work by blocking the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline which helps to reduce blood pressure and reduce heart rate.

Beta-blockers may be prescribed to treat conditions such as:

Beta-blockers can however reduce sensitivity to insulin and can therefore raise the risk of type 2 diabetes developing.

Thiazide diuretics

Thiazide diuretics, also referred to as ‘water tablets’ and may be taken to reduce high blood pressure or to remove excess water from the body.

Side effects of taking thiazide diuretics include increased blood sugar levels and having low levels of salts, such as potassium, magnesium and sodium, in the body. Blood glucose levels may, but not always, return to normal if treatment with thiazide diuretics is stopped.

Antipsychotics

Antipsychotics may be used to treat schizophrenia and symptoms of psychosis which may occur in people with dementia.

Side effects of antipsychotics include weight gain and hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels). Blood sugar levels may return to normal if medication is stopped.

However, if significant weight has been gained over the course of the treatment. Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes may be permanent.

Statins

Statins are cholesterol lowering medications that have been widely prescribed since they were introduced in 2003.

In 2011, a study published in the JAMA medical journal showed a link between taking higher doses of statin medications and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

In 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration introduced warnings on statins to advise on the higher risk of higher blood glucose levels and memory problems associated with the medication.