An outbreak of fungal meningitis has killed five people who took tainted steroid injections for back pain. And 42 more in seven states are sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of them are in Tennessee, but others are in Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland, Florida, and North Carolina.
But what connection does this bad news have to those of us who have diabetes?
The connection is that we already had other reasons to avoid steroid injections when we can. Steroids can cause our blood sugar levels to skyrocket. They can make us ravenously hungry and lead to our gaining weight.
Prednisone is one of the most commonly prescribed steroids. It is a corticosteroid, not one of the anabolic steroids that bodybuilders use. Our doctors prescribe prednisone because it can reduce or relieve severe inflammation. At the same time steroids have profound effects on all of our body.
These side effects can be serious. One friend of mine joined the diabetes support group that I started because he had severe back pain, took the prednisone that relieved it, and ended up with type 2 diabetes.
Prednisone and other steroids are powerful drugs that really work. Unfortunately, they can come with very high costs. It matters a lot how much you take and for how long.
When we take any powerful drug like prednisone we have to work with our doctors to make the choices that can minimize the side effects so that we get the benefits with the least possible risk. Be in charge of your body.
This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.