This handout explains how blood sugar levels may change because of medicines you take. 

Medicine-Induced Diabetes

Medicines like steroids can cause high blood sugar levels. These medicines prevent your body from keeping blood sugar levels in a normal range. “Normal” blood sugar levels before eating are 70-99 mg/dL. Blood sugar levels two hours after meals should be less than 140 mg/dL.

 Medicines Affecting Blood Sugars

  • Cyclosporine (Neoral®)

  • Tacrolimus (Prograf®)

  • Prednisone or dexamethasone

Benefits of Managing Blood Sugars

Keeping blood glucose levels as normal as possible will help you heal. Also, is less of a chance for problems like rejection and infection. You might feel better and have more energy when blood glucose levels are normal.

Long-Term Effects

Some people have high blood glucose levels only when taking these medicines. Others may still need to check blood glucose levels after the medicines are stopped. Some people have other types of diabetes like type 1 or type 2 diabetes which still need to be managed after medicines are stopped. 

Checking Blood Sugars

You may need to check your blood sugars at home. Record your results and bring to your clinic visits.

Healthy Eating

Avoid foods and drinks with sugar that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Limit your intake of high fat foods to avoid weight gain. We suggest a weight loss program for patients who are overweight. Even a small weight loss can improve your control.

Activity

Activities such as walking or biking help keep lower blood sugar levels. Check your blood glucose levels before, during, and after activity. You may be at risk for low blood sugars up to 24 hours after activity.

Before starting an activity program, talk with your health care team about any restrictions you may have. 

Medicine 

Some people manage their blood sugar levels with healthy eating and more activity. Some people need medicines to keep their blood sugars in a normal range. This could include pills or insulin. Blood sugar levels vary based on the dose of medicine you are taking. When your dose is large, your blood sugar levels can be high enough to need insulin. After the dose is lowered, you may be able to manage with less diabetes medicine or none at all.