What should people with diabetes consider when selecting cold or pain medications?

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Pain medications for people with diabetes are usually safe in small doses. You don’t have to worry about taking an occasional aspirin for a headache or fever. Ibuprofen is not safe for anyone with kidney disease. People with diabetes should not take ibuprofen unless a provider advises it. This drug could cause acute renal failure in people with kidney problems.

If you have diabetes, some cold medicines sold over-the-counter to treat colds and flu can affect your blood glucose level. Many cough and cold remedies labeled “decongestant” contain ingredients (such as pseudoephedrine) that raise blood glucose levels and blood pressure.

In addition, some cough and cold remedies contain sugar and alcohol. Make sure you read the label and find out exactly what “active ingredients” as well as “inactive ingredients” any medication contains. A small amount of sugar or alcohol is probably fine, as long as you are aware you are taking it. If you will be taking frequent or high doses of a particular medicine, try to find a sugar-free version. Alcohol is a common ingredient in nighttime cold medications, but alcohol-free alternatives are available.

Talk to the pharmacist or your provider before you take any over-the-counter medication.

Continue Learning about Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.