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Steroid-Induced Diabetes: Side Effect Treated like Standard Disease

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Updated June 13, 2014

Corticosteroids are often used as a treatment option for lupus patients, as they reduce inflammation and affect the immune system. Corticosteroids, most of which are synthetically made, are considered potent anti-inflammatories. Some patients may even hear the term "glucocorticoid," favored by pharmacists to describe synthetic drugs that act like endogenous "corticosteroids." When given in high doses, they can also be an immunosuppressive.

Long-term use can cause steroid-induced diabetes. If you are diagnosed with this condition, you will receive standard treatment for diabetes.

What is Diabetes:

When your body cannot properly regulate glucose, or sugar, in your blood and those levels become too high, then, most likely, you will be diagnosed with diabetes. Glucose, which comes from the foods we eat or is made by the liver, is an important source of energy for our bodies' cells. Insulin allows cells to take in glucose from the bloodstream.

Without proper insulin action, glucose builds in the bloodstream and cells are deprived of energy.

If you are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, you cannot produce insulin. If you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you cannot make or you do not use insulin well.

Over time, diabetes can lead to a number of serious health problems, including:

Symptoms:

Symptoms attributable to Type 2 diabetes, the most commonly diagnosed type, include fatigue, thirst, weight loss, blurred vision and frequent urination. But you do not have to present with symptoms to have diabetes.

Some people have no symptoms. Blood tests can show if you have diabetes. Exercise, weight control and sticking to your meal plan can help control your diabetes. You should also monitor your glucose level and take medicine if prescribed.

To determine if you have diabetes, and what type, a healthcare professional will perform certain tests, including a fasting blood glucose test. This test is often conducted in the morning, or after an eight-hour fast. Glucose levels are determined and if they are above a certain index (126 mg/dL), then diabetes may be diagnosed.

Another test is the oral glucose tolerance test, which measures glucose levels two hours after drinking a beverage containing 75 grams of glucose dissolved in water.

Diabetes Treatment:

Taking insulin is the No. 1 treatment plan for those with type 1 diabetes. Prior to the discovery of insulin, Type 1 diabetes sufferers would die within a few years.

Insulin intake must be balanced with food and daily activities. Thus diabetes patients are encouraged to eat right and increase their physical activity. Patients must also regularly check their blood glucose levels, and take part in periodic hemoglobin A1C lab tests to measure glucose levels. Results of the A1C test reflect average blood glucose over a two- to three-month period.

For type 2 diabetes, healthy eating, physical activity, and blood glucose testing are the basic management tools. In addition, many people with type 2 require oral medication, insulin, or both to control blood glucose levels.

Above all, diabetes sufferers need to focus on day-to-day care to successfully manage their disease. That includes keeping blood glucose levels from rising too much or dipping too low. If levels drop too low, sufferers may find themselves nervous and confused, with impaired judgment leading to possible loss of consciousness. This is a condition known as hypoglycemia.

A person can also become ill if blood glucose levels rise too high, a condition known as hyperglycemia.

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