How Antibiotics Affect Blood Glucose Levels

PharmacyDiabetes patients who take a certain class of antibiotics are more likely to have severe blood sugar fluctuations than those who take other types of the drugs, study’s have shown.

The increased risk was low but doctors should consider it when prescribing the class of antibiotics, known as fluoroquinolones, to people with diabetes, the researchers said. This class of antibiotics, which includes drugs such as Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (levofloxacin) and Avelox (moxifloxacin), is commonly used to treat conditions such as urinary tract infections and community-acquired pneumonia.

Results from recent studies have shown that patients who took fluoroquinolones were more likely to have severe blood sugar swings than those who took antibiotics in the other classes.

A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases showed that the incidence of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) per 1,000 people was 6.9 for people taking moxifloxacin, 3.9 for levofloxacin and 4.0 for ciprofloxacin. The incidence of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) was 10 per 1,000 for moxifloxacin, 9.3 for levofloxacin and 7.9 for ciprofloxacin.

The incidence of hyperglycemia per 1,000 people was 1.6 for those taking the macrolide class of antibiotics and 2.1 for those on cephalosporins. The incidence of hypoglycemia per 1,000 people was 3.7 for macrolides and 3.2 for cephalosporins.

Results identified moxifloxacin as the drug associated with the highest risk of hypoglycemia, followed by levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin,

People with diabetes should be mindful of these fluctuations when being prescribed antibiotics, and clarify with their GP about any potential fluctuations in blood sugar levels that can be expected. The benefits of clearing up infections quickly and restoring blood glucose levels to normal, may outweigh any potential blood glucose fluctuations that certain types of antibiotics may cause.