How do I Control My Blood Sugar While on Steroids

Steroids, commonly prescribed for various medical conditions, can inadvertently lead to steroid-induced diabetes, a condition characterized by elevated blood sugar levels. Understanding the relationship between steroids and diabetes is crucial for effective management. While steroid-induced diabetes is often temporary, it can pose challenges during treatment. This guide offers insights into the challenges of blood sugar while on steroids, the causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options for steroid-induced diabetes.

What are Steroids?

Steroids, scientifically known as corticosteroids, are synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of cortisol, a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol plays a vital role in the body’s response to stress, metabolism regulation, immune function, and inflammation control. Steroids are widely used in medicine for their potent anti-inflammatory properties, making them valuable in the treatment of various medical conditions.

Steroids work by suppressing the immune system and reducing inflammation, making them effective in managing conditions such as asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and allergies. They are available in various forms, including oral tablets, injectables, inhalers, creams, and ointments, allowing for targeted delivery based on the specific condition being treated.

Despite their therapeutic benefits, steroids can also cause side effects, ranging from mild to severe. Common side effects may include weight gain, fluid retention, mood swings, increased appetite, insomnia, and elevated blood sugar levels. Prolonged or high-dose steroid use may increase the risk of more serious complications, such as osteoporosis, hypertension, cataracts, and adrenal suppression.

It’s important to use steroids under the guidance of a healthcare professional and to follow prescribed dosage instructions carefully to minimize the risk of side effects. Additionally, regular monitoring and close communication with your healthcare provider can help ensure the safe and effective use of steroids for managing medical conditions.

What Causes Diabetes Driven via Steroids?

Steroid-induced diabetes, also known as steroid-induced hyperglycemia, occurs when the use of corticosteroid medications leads to elevated blood sugar levels. Several mechanisms contribute to the development of diabetes driven by steroids, disrupting the body’s ability to maintain normal sugar levels:

  • Insulin resistance: Steroids can reduce the body’s sensitivity to insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. This insulin resistance makes it harder for cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream, leading to elevated blood sugar levels.
  • Increased glucose production: Steroids can stimulate the liver to produce more glucose, further contributing to elevated blood sugar levels.
  • Impaired insulin secretion: Steroids may impair the function of beta cells in the pancreas, which are responsible for producing insulin. This can lead to decreased insulin secretion, making it difficult for the body to regulate blood sugar levels effectively.
  • Changes in metabolism: Steroids can alter the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the body, resulting in disruptions to glucose homeostasis and increased blood sugar levels.
  • Genetic predisposition: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing diabetes, and the use of steroids can exacerbate this predisposition by disrupting normal glucose metabolism.

It’s important for healthcare providers to monitor blood sugar levels closely in individuals receiving steroid therapy and to adjust treatment as needed to minimize the risk of complications associated with steroid-induced diabetes.

Is Diabetes Caused by Steroids a Lifelong Condition?

Steroid-induced diabetes is a transient condition for many individuals, meaning that it often resolves once steroid treatment is discontinued. This reversal occurs as the body’s natural insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism gradually return to baseline levels. However, certain factors can influence the persistence of steroid-induced diabetes beyond the cessation of steroid therapy. Therefore, while steroid-induced diabetes is often temporary, it is essential for individuals and healthcare providers to recognize the potential for long-term complications in certain cases.

Symptoms of Diabetes Caused by Steroids

Steroid-induced diabetes can manifest with symptoms similar to those of other types of diabetes. These symptoms typically arise as a result of elevated blood sugar levels and may include:

  • Increased thirst (polydipsia): Steroids can lead to dehydration by increasing urine output, causing individuals to feel thirstier than usual.
  • Frequent urination (polyuria): Elevated blood sugar levels can overwhelm the kidneys’ ability to reabsorb glucose, resulting in increased urine production and the need to urinate more frequently.
  • Fatigue: Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can affect energy levels, leading to feelings of fatigue and weakness.
  • Blurred vision: High blood sugar levels can cause changes in the shape of the lens in the eye, resulting in blurred vision.
  • Unexplained weight loss: Despite increased appetite, individuals with steroid-induced diabetes may experience unexplained weight loss due to the body’s inability to effectively utilize glucose for energy.
  • Increased hunger (polyphagia): Steroids can alter hunger signals, causing individuals to feel hungrier than usual even after eating.

If you experience any of these symptoms while taking steroids, it is essential to consult your healthcare provider for further evaluation and management. Prompt recognition and treatment of steroid-induced diabetes can help prevent complications and promote overall health and well-being.

Risk Factors for Diabetes Induced by Steroids

Several factors can increase the risk of developing diabetes induced by steroids, also known as steroid-induced hyperglycemia. These risk factors include:

  • Pre-existing diabetes risk: Individuals with a family history of diabetes or those who have previously been diagnosed with prediabetes or insulin resistance are at higher risk of developing steroid-induced diabetes.
  • Duration and dosage of steroid treatment: The risk of developing steroid-induced diabetes increases with prolonged or high-dose steroid therapy. Longer durations of treatment and higher doses can lead to more significant disruptions in glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
  • Underlying health conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as obesity, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome, can increase the susceptibility to steroid-induced diabetes. These conditions are often associated with insulin resistance and impaired glucose regulation.
  • Age: Older adults may be more vulnerable to the effects of steroids on blood sugar levels due to age-related changes in metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
  • Other medications: Concurrent use of other medications that affect glucose metabolism, such as diuretics or certain immunosuppressants, can exacerbate the risk of steroid-induced diabetes.
  • Lifestyle factors: Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as poor diet, sedentary behavior, and excessive alcohol consumption, can further increase the risk of developing steroid-induced diabetes.

It’s important for healthcare providers to consider these risk factors when prescribing steroids. Early detection and intervention can help mitigate the impact of steroid-induced hyperglycemia and prevent long-term complications.

Treatment for steroid-induced diabetes

Treatment for steroid-induced diabetes focuses on how to control blood sugar levels effectively to minimize the risk of complications. The approach to treatment may involve a combination of lifestyle modifications, medication, and close monitoring. Here are some key components of treatment:

Blood sugar monitoring

Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is essential to assess the effectiveness of treatment and make adjustments as needed. This may involve self-monitoring at home using a glucometer or periodic blood tests conducted by healthcare providers.


Depending on the severity of hyperglycemia, healthcare providers may prescribe oral medications or insulin to help control blood sugar levels. Oral medications such as metformin or sulfonylureas may be used to improve insulin sensitivity or stimulate insulin production. In more severe cases, insulin therapy may be necessary to regulate blood sugar levels effectively.

Dietary modifications

Adopting a balanced diet that focuses on whole foods, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Individuals with steroid-induced diabetes should aim to limit their intake of sugary and processed foods, which can cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

Regular exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity can improve insulin sensitivity and help lower blood sugar levels. Incorporating aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises into a weekly routine can be beneficial for managing steroid-induced diabetes.

Education and support

Education about diabetes management and ongoing support from healthcare providers can empower individuals to take an active role in their care. Learning about the importance of blood sugar monitoring, medication adherence, and lifestyle modifications can help individuals effectively manage steroid-induced diabetes and minimize the risk of complications.

Overall, treatment for steroid-induced diabetes aims to achieve and maintain optimal blood sugar control while minimizing the risk of side effects and complications associated with hyperglycemia. It’s essential for individuals to work closely with their healthcare providers to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses their unique needs and goals.


In conclusion, managing normal sugar levels while on steroids is crucial. Although steroid-induced diabetes is often temporary, proactive measures such as regular monitoring, healthy lifestyle choices, and medication adherence are essential. Dr. Hemi Soneja’s commitment to patient education and support is paramount. By prioritizing open communication and personalized care, Dr. Soneja can empower her patients to effectively manage steroid-induced diabetes and minimize its impact on their health. Together, with proactive management and support, individuals undergoing steroid treatment can navigate this challenge with confidence and optimize their overall well-being.


How do I keep my blood sugars stable while on steroids?

To maintain stable blood sugars while on steroids, it’s crucial to monitor your levels regularly and make dietary adjustments. Opt for complex carbohydrates like whole grains and veggies over sugary foods. Stay hydrated and limit high-sugar snacks. Regular exercise can also help regulate blood sugar levels. Consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice and medication adjustments. Consistent monitoring and healthy habits are key to managing blood sugars while on steroids.

How long after steroids does blood sugar return to normal?

Blood sugar levels usually return to normal within a few days to a few weeks after stopping steroid use. However, the exact timeframe depends on factors like the type of steroid taken, the duration of use, and individual differences in metabolism and overall health. It’s important to consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance on managing blood sugar levels during and after steroid treatment.

What foods are good for steroid-induced diabetes?

When managing steroid-induced diabetes, focus on low-glycemic foods like non-starchy vegetables (e.g., broccoli, spinach), lean proteins (e.g., chicken, fish), and healthy fats (e.g., avocado, olive oil). Limit intake of high-sugar foods and refined carbohydrates (e.g., sugary drinks, white bread). Choose whole grains (e.g., brown rice, quinoa) and fruits with low sugar content (e.g., berries). Monitor portion sizes and aim for balanced meals to help control blood sugar levels.

How bad are steroids for diabetics?

Steroids can worsen blood sugar control in diabetics. They can cause blood sugar levels to spike, making it harder to manage diabetes. Long-term steroid use may lead to insulin resistance, requiring higher doses of insulin or other medications to control diabetes. It’s important for diabetics using steroids to closely monitor their blood sugar levels and work with their healthcare provider to adjust their treatment plan accordingly.

connect-on-linkedin-with-Dr-Hemi-Soneja make-a-call-with-Dr-Hemi-Soneja Best-Diabetes-Specialist-Doctor-in-Delhi

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top