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Diabetes and Sick Days: What Meds are OK

In the midst of cold and flu season, you may wonder what medications are safe to take without greatly impacting blood glucose levels when you have diabetes. Overall, it's the sickness that increases blood glucose in people with diabetes, not the medication used to treat it.  However, some medications should be used with caution.

Stacey O'Donnell, R.N., B.S., C.D.E., nurse manager, at Joslin Diabetes Center, goes over different types of medications and how they could impact your diabetes.

  • Pain and fever reducers

    Examples:  Tylenol, Aspirin
    Effect on diabetes:  No effect.  Use cautiously if you have renal disease.

  • Anti-inflammatory

    Examples:  Ibuprofen, such as Advil, Motrin, Nuprin
    Effect on diabetes:  No effect.  Also should be used carefully if you have renal disease.

  • Antihistamines

    Examples:  Allegra, Bumex
    Effect on diabetes:  Caution should be used in patients who have diabetes with renal disease, cardiac disease and high blood pressure.

General guidelines for taking medications for people with diabetes are to avoid products containing sugar, such as sucrose, dextrose, fructose, lactose and honey, O'Donnell says.  Also, choose products with little or no alcohol.

A suggested list of sugar-free cough and cold medicines includes:

  • Chlor-Trometon tablets
  • Dimetapp Elixir
  • Scot-Tussin DM Liquid
  • Cerose-DM Liquid

To make an appointment with a diabetes nurse educator, please call (617) 732-2400.

Page last updated: November 07, 2019