If you suffer from diabetes, you know just how terrifying a low blood sugar episode can be.
One moment you’re feeling fine — and the next you’re dizzy, your heart is racing, and you’re breaking out in a sweat.
And if you don’t get help fast, you could end up flat on your back – or even fighting for your life.
But even if you’re monitoring your diabetes like a hawk, researchers are warning that you could be at greater risk than ever for a dangerous and sudden blood sugar crash.
And it’s all thanks to a common drug duo that doctors should have stopped prescribing years ago.
You’re told what to eat… how often to prick your finger… and exactly when to take your meds.
But, believe it or not, there’s one time when following doctor’s orders can put you on the fast track to hypoglycemia, a dangerous drop in your blood sugar.
And that’s when he prescribes you a certain type of antibiotics to treat an infection.
Researchers at the University of Texas found that combining a class of diabetes drugs, called sulfonylureas (like Diabeta, Micronase, Glynase, Prestab, Glucotrol, and Amaryl) with certain kinds of antibiotics is a major cause of hypoglycemia in seniors.
Antibiotics linked to this dangerous side effect include Cipro, Levaquin, Biaxin, Bactrim and Flagyl.
And previous research found two more – Avelox and Diflucan – to have a similar effect on blood sugar.
You see, it turns out these antibiotics actually interfere with how your body metabolizes diabetes drugs, which can make them even more potent.
And that can send your blood sugar tumbling like the stock market on a bad day.
The good news is that we’ve known about this risk for a while.
The bad news? Nobody seems to be paying attention.
In fact, three years ago researchers linked these antibiotics to severe blood sugar swings. It was supposed to be a “wake-up call for doctors” – but it looks like lots of them hit the snooze button, because these antibiotics are still handed out to diabetics like crazy.
And the problem may be even worse than the Texas researchers found. That’s because their study only looked at hospitalizations and ER visits, so there were probably an untold number of low blood sugar cases that were never counted.
Of course, if you or someone you love has diabetes, there are a few things you can do to stay safe. For example:
- If you’re prescribed an antibiotic, make sure it’s not one of those listed above. If it is, ask if you can take another kind.
- While on antibiotics, be sure to monitor your glucose levels more often, and be on the lookout for any symptoms of low blood sugar.
- And, most importantly, always ask if you really need to be taking an antibiotic at all. Studies have shown that they’re regularly handed out for conditions, like common colds, that they can’t help and were never meant to treat.
“Several antibiotics tied to hypoglycemia in patients on sulfonylureas” Will Boggs MD, Reuters Health, annalsoflongtermcre.com