Prednisone – handling this strong medicine as a diabetic!

Corticosteroids and Your Blood Glucose

Image of pill bottle and pills, copyright Microsoft
Image of pill bottle and pills, copyright Microsoft

Prednisone is considered to be a corticosteriod(which mimics hormones produced by your adrenal glands) and is used to reduce inflammation from many illnesses, like vasculitis, myositis, and rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and others. It is also used to suppress your immune system as in helping to reduce rejection of organs.

Corticosteroids can be taken via mouth, inhaled, in creams topically or by injection.

The synthetic cordicosteriod Prednisone is a very effective anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant drug. However, this strong medicine can have several undesired side effects, especially if you are a diabetic.

Side effects of Prednisone Use

There can be many side effects when using Prednisone, from mild to severe:

  • Irritability and nervousness, mood swings
  • Chipmunk cheeks and buffalo hump (on the back of the neck)
  • Depression, even suicidal thoughts
  • Blurring of eyesight and even cataract development
  • Thin skin and easy bruising
  • Bone thinning
  • Excess hair growth
  • Increase in your susceptibility to infections
  • Appetite increase and weight gain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Elevated blood glucose levels.

Reducing the Impact of Prednisone on Your Body

Chipmonk Image
Chipmonk image

Here are some things to do to lesson the impact of prednisone on your diabetic body:

  • Use less salt to help reduce fluid retention and help avoid higher blood pressure.
  • Try to eat a more balanced diet to help avoid excess weight gain.
  • Reduce sugar intake, add more protein and fruits and vegetables.
  • Reduce calories consumed and increase exercise
  • Add calcium and vitamin D to your supplements for your bones, and potassium for blood pressure.
  • Take your prednisone with food to help avoid stomach ulcers.
  • Also avoid drinking alcohol for the same reason.
  • Taper off your dosage of Prednisone when you are finishing treatment to avoid cramps, body aches and other side affects.

My Experience with Long-term Prednisone Use

In the past, I have used short term dosages of steroids and corticosteroids for my asthma and other mild illnesses; however when my problems with vasculitis and the formation of leg and feet ulcers occurred, I began long term use of Prednisone.  By long term, I mean months (so far, over six months).  While I realize that I really need the anti-inflammatory effects of the Prednisone, I am not happy with my chipmunk face, weight gain, trouble sleeping, blurred vision and some other side effects I am experiencing.  I’m also not pleased with the increase in my blood glucose levels.

I’ve really tried to work on keeping my blood sugar levels under control to improve the healing of my ulcers (something my doctor has reiterated over and over).  I’m reducing consumption of bread, sugars and other carbohydrates; and increasing my protein, fruit and veggie intake.  I’m also checking my blood glucose several times a day to see if I need to inject additional insulin.  As far as exercise, that is pretty much impossible for me to increase with my feet ulcers and my back issues and I’m in a wheelchair most of the day.  My goal is to keep my blood glucose readings below 200 and closer to 160 and so far, I’ve been successful.  I plan on really tightening up on my diet this next couple of weeks to speed healing of these ulcers.


Thanks for looking at my site and coming to this page. I would love for you to leave any questions or comments below.  In addition, I’m open to new topics to research and comment on as they pertain to my own health and experience living with diabetes.  Please share your interests and questions in your comments.  I also love to hear others stories about how they handle their own diabetes issues.

– Shirley


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13 thoughts on “Prednisone – handling this strong medicine as a diabetic!

  1. Shirley,

    So sorry that you have to deal with this. I’ve had to take prednisone on a short term basis and I couldn’t wait to get off it. I can’t imagine being on it for more than 10-14 days at a time!

    Praying for your health and recovery from those painful ulcers!


    1. Thanks Don for checking out my site and your comment. I’m still on the prednisone and now finding my hair is thinning and I seem to be developing some incontinence issues which can be caused by this drug. Boy am I ready to be off it. However, the ulcers are really starting to heal now and I have basically two open wounds left – one on each ankle that the doc is debriding and I’m treating and wrapping. Maybe by the end of April they will be closed and I can go off the prednisone. Glory Be! Shirley

  2. Hi Shirley!
    I never knew of the possibly side effects of Prednisone! Seems like they are amplified when one has diabetes. I mean there are already life adjustments that need to be made when diabetic, its unfortunate that this medication seems to lead to more. It does seem like some strategies could be effective but as with your example, some such as exercise, might not be possible for everyone

    1. Emily, thank you for visiting my website and your comment. Weight gain and blurred vision from the long-term prednisone use is most of my problem, other than the BGL levels rising – I’m being very careful with that so my healing is not compromised. You have a wonderful evening. Shirley

    1. Thanks Colton for checking out my article and your comment. Prednisone is definitely strong medicine with lots of side effects. Have a great day. Shirley

  3. Very interesting blog Shirley. Nice and clean and clear too. How long have you been working at your site? I really enjoyed viewing.

    1. Hi Jamie, thanks for checking out my blog site and your comment. I have several blogs but this one I started probably in November 2014 because I’m type 2 diabetic and I’m surfing and researching things about diabetes all the time. I might as well share the stuff I’m finding out. I have an adorable grandson who’s 2.5 years old and a new grandchild on the way who I really want to see grow up. So I’m working on controlling my diabetes so I will able to watch them grow. Have a great evening. Shirley

  4. My father suffered with a disease in his lungs, similar to lung cancer, but due to a chemical in the dung of pigeons. He raised and raced pigeons from his youth. The chemical got in his lungs from those many years of cleaning out their cages.

    He took prednisone for almost 20 years in increasing amounts. It kept him alive but it did weaken him over time.

    Prednisone has some fantastic qualities and, obviously, some people can take a lot of it without horrible side effects. I understand your concerns with diabetes, however.

    I’m a lot like my father but haven’t had his health issues. Instead, I have Type 2 diabetes. It’s under control with medication and insulin but I need to be careful to not make it worse.

    Hopefully, the prednisone will be a temporary fix for you.

    1. Allyn, thanks for reading my article and your comment. 20 years of Prednisone is a long time. I hate just the six months I’ve been taking it and can’t wait till I can go off it. my BGL was 318 before lunch today and had to do extra Novolog injection. Tonight will have to be a no carb at all night I guess. Have a great evening. Shirley

  5. My daughter has diabetes and lack of adrenal function (Addison’s disease). She is not taking prednisone, but has developed some of the other symptoms you mention. The only thing her doctors can do is try to keep adjusting her doses of hydrocortisone, fludrocortisone etc to keep them at bay. The way these steroids interact with diabetes is remarkably complex.

    1. Jerry, thanks for reading my article and your comment. Yes, any type steroid is very complex for a diabetic and diet and insulin doses need to be monitored continually while on these meds. Have a great evening. Shirley

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