Medications that Can Increase Blood Sugar

There are some commonly used medications that can increase blood sugar. We should know which ones since they can impact our health.
Medications that Can Increase Blood Sugar
María Vijande

Reviewed and approved by the pharmacist María Vijande.

Written by María Vijande

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Certain commonly-used medications can increase blood sugar. They can even cause glycemia decompensation. 

If you’re a person with diabetes, it’s vitally important to be in control of the disease. Otherwise, you may suffer from some of the disease’s complications, including:

  • Kidney failure
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Diabetic retinopathy leading to blindness
  • Diabetic foot, which is the cause of 70% of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations, according to scientific literature

What should you know about it? What are the medications that can increase blood sugar levels? In this article, we’ll tell you what hyperglycemia is and which medications could cause this condition. 

What is hyperglycemia?

Hyperglycemia refers to high levels of sugar or glucose in the blood. This condition’s symptoms never appear abruptly and, therefore, are quite gradual.

In some cases, diabetic patients don’t even realize that they’re suffering from hyperglycemia because they don’t have any symptoms. However, other patients may notice they’re more thirsty than usual and, despite drinking a lot of water, their mouth is still dry. Other symptoms could be:

  • Increased hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling more tired than normal
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Prolonged fatigue or tiredness

What happens if I take medications that increase blood sugar?

Sometimes, just because a drug can raise the blood sugar levels of a non-diabetic person, that doesn’t mean that person has diabetes. It’s actually a side effect of some drugs. Therefore, if you stop taking it, that sugar surge will disappear.

However, if you’re in diabetic treatment, and you take a drug that increases blood glucose levels, then the anti-diabetic’s hypoglycemic effect will decrease. This increases the risk of acute complications of hyperglycemia, such as ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar coma. It’s best to not use drugs that will increase your blood sugar levels. 

However, if it’s necessary to add this kind of medication to your long-term treatment, it’s important to adapt the dosage of the hypoglycemic agent to ensure your blood sugar levels will be under control. 

Read more: Discover How Diabetes Affects Eyesight

What are some medications that can increase blood sugar?

When taking a medicine, it’s better to take tablets instead of liquid pharmaceutical forms. 

That’s because liquid options contain more carbohydrates and, sometimes, as much alcohol as a glass of wine. Here are some medications that can increase blood sugar:


Generally, glucocorticoids are the medication that can affect glycemic control the most. These drugs are widely used when treating common diseases such as asthma, skin problems, allergies, conjunctivitis or tendinitis, among others. These drugs increase blood sugar levels quickly and significantly. 

A diabetic person who needs to use corticosteroids should always do so under medical supervision.


Protease inhibitors for treating AIDS

These inhibitors are used to treat HIV and are administered long-term. Sometimes, this can cause the onset of diabetes or it can create an imbalance in individuals who already have diabetes. Therefore, it’s very important to monitor patients who are taking these medications, whether they’re diabetic or not.

Hormonal contraceptives that can increase blood sugar

Since many contraceptives have estrogen or progestogen, patients with diabetes can’t take them. However, the restrictions on using them are actually related to their association with cardiovascular diseases. 

Therefore, low-dose progestogens are the best contraceptives for people with diabetes. They shouldn’t take high-dose progestogens.

Keep reading: Contraceptive Methods: Know the Myths and Truths About Them

Antihypertensive drugs

In particular, we’re talking about thiazide diuretics. Despite the hyperglycemic effect of thiazide diuretics, they show a positive benefit-risk balance in arterial hypertension in diabetics.

However, diuretics put you at risk of dehydration and hyperosmolar coma. Therefore, when taking these medications, you need to monitor your hyperglycemia and renal function. 


Statins, used to treat hypercholesterolemia, can cause dose-dependent hyperglycemia. However, it definitely works for secondary cardiovascular prevention.

Red and white pills.

Beta-blocking agents

Beta-2 adrenergic agonists can cause an increase in blood sugar when administered parenterally in obstetrics or when treating asthma attacks. 


In general, the best way to avoid taking medications that can increase blood sugar is to follow your doctor’s or pharmacist’s recommendations. This will help you avoid using any medications that could cause health problems. 

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.