What Is the Connection Between Cortisone and Diabetes?

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  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 01 July 2014
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The connection between cortisone and diabetes is that the drug can, more often than not, be harmful for people suffering from diabetes, especially for the adult-onset type. One particular symptom associated with cortisone is a sudden increase of blood sugar level, which is often dangerous for diabetics and can cause other severe conditions. Some studies have also shown that cortisone and diabetes may have a causal connection, as prolonged or regular intake of cortisone may result in the disease.

Cortisone is actually produced naturally as a hormone when the body experiences any kinds of stress, which can include inflammation or itchiness. The hormone, however, is manufactured synthetically as a medication because the effect of the natural kind is often short-term. Some conditions that cortisone can treat are arthritis, allergies, and asthma. It can also be prescribed for patients with cancer or autoimmune diseases to increase their appetite and relieve other side effects from their medications.

As a reaction to bodily stress, the production of cortisone often results in some physiological actions that prepare the person to “fight or flight,” reflexive responses that the body uses as defense mechanisms. Such physiological actions usually include elevated levels of blood pressure and blood sugar. This is why there is often a negative connection between cortisone and diabetes, and doctors often prescribe the medication with utmost caution and ask their patients to closely monitor their blood sugar levels and accordingly adjust their diabetes medication.


There have been reports from diabetic patients that their blood sugar increased to dangerous levels after taking cortisone for about a week. Some patients experienced the effect for just a few days; for others, however, the effect lasted for a few weeks. Several patients who have successfully managed their diabetes and blood sugar with proper diet and exercise became dependent on insulin after a cortisone medication. The negative relationship between cortisone and diabetes was also apparent in non-diabetic patients who have experienced symptoms of diabetes, such as unexplainable weight fluctuations and increased appetite and hunger, aside from high levels of blood sugar. A few patients were eventually diagnosed with developing type 2 diabetes.

Doctors may be cautious of prescribing cortisone, but it is also best for patients to tell their doctors if they have a family history of diabetes or if they already have the disease. Effects associated with cortisone and diabetes may differ from one person to another, so doctors and patients need to discuss and explore other treatment options for any medical conditions often treated by cortisone. If the patient is experiencing symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, and blurry vision, all of which can be caused by high blood sugar levels, he should consult the doctor immediately.


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