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December 13, 2004

Hyperglycemia and DKA, Other

Question from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA:

My father does not have diabetes, at least I don't think so. Recently, he was given a steroid shot for a persistent hacking cough. The day before, his non-fasting blood sugar was 106 mg/dl [5.9 mmol/L]. This was a routine check centering around his cardiology problems. The day after the shot, his fasting blood sugar was checked again for another reason and it was 210 mg/dl [11.7 mmol/L]! I know steroids raise one's blood sugar. Will it do so in persons NOT diagnosed with diabetes as well?

Answer:

Steroids can cause insulin resistance which means you would need to produce extra insulin in order to keep the blood sugar normal. If you cannot produce this extra insulin, the blood sugar will go up (as it did). This happens with people who already have insulin resistance and are high risk for developing diabetes.”Steroid induced” diabetes is an early warning of the person’s high risk of diabetes.

JS