Allergies and Diabetes
Seasonal changes can prompt changes in the body. The temperature or even the amount of time a person can spend in or outdoors can affect diabetes management. Along with the seasons, especially spring and summer, often come allergies for many people and an additional link in the chain of events that may affect blood glucose numbers.
Common allergy symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy nose, eyes and roof of mouth
- Stuffy nose
- Pressure in the nose and cheeks
- Ear fullness and popping
- Dark circles under the eyes
Blurry vision is another common effect of allergies, but this must be watched carefully as it is equally a sign of diabetes and diabetic vision complications.
The FDA regulates medications that offer allergy relief. Many of these medications can be found over the counter (OTC), but in persistent cases, your doctor may prescribe a special course of treatment for you.
These medications typically fall under one of five categories.
Steroids, known medically as corticosteroids, help prevent and treat inflammation by blocking allergic reactions. They prevent and treat nasal stuffiness, sneezing, and itchy, runny nose due to seasonal or year-round allergies. They can also decrease inflammation and swelling from other types of allergic reactions. Most corticosteroids require a prescription.
A side effect of steroids is elevated blood sugar. Make sure to monitor your blood sugar more frequently if you are required to take steroids.
Steroids are available as pills, for serious allergies or asthma; inhalers, for asthma; nasal sprays, for seasonal or year-round allergies; creams, for skin allergies; or as an eye drop, for allergic conjunctivitis. Your doctor may prescribe a steroid in addition to other allergy medications.
Nasal steroid sprays reduce the reaction of the nasal tissues to inhaled allergens. These are typically sprayed into the nose once or twice a day to treat inflammation. This helps relieve the swelling in your nose so that you feel less stopped-up. Nasal steroid sprays are available with a prescription from your doctor. You won't notice their benefits for up to 2 weeks after starting them, so they must be taken daily to be of benefit -- even when you aren't feeling allergy symptoms.
Nasal steroids include Beconase, Flonase, Nasocort, Nasonex, Rhinocort, Veramyst, and generic fluticasone, which are used to treat nasal allergy symptoms.
Inhaled steroids include Azmacort, Flovent, Pulmicort, Asmanex, Q-Var, Alvesco, and Aerobid, which are used to treat asthma. Advair and Symbicort are inhaled drugs that combine a steroid with another drug to treat asthma. Inhaled steroids are available only with a prescription.
Eye drops include Alrex and Dexamethasone, while oral steroids may be Deltasone or Medrol, also called prednisone.
Your doctor may prescribe steroid pills for a short time or give you a steroid shot if your symptoms are severe or if other medicines aren't working for you.
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I had a work dinner last night with some leadership from my office. I always find diabetes etiquette at these things to be kind of tricky. It was a four course meal, with salad, soup, entree' and dessert and coffee. There was also a selection of gluten free and non-gluten free dinner rolls. I felt way too full of questions for waitress... "Could I get my dressing on the side? How much sugar is in it?" A course later...