10 Medications That Raise Blood Sugar Levels

All medications have a risk of side effects, and some drugs may even raise blood sugar levels.

It is particularly important to know about medications that raise blood sugar when living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. 

This is also vital to understand when testing blood sugar levels. If you are taking any of these medications, it might result in false results.

Keep reading for a list of drugs that raise blood sugar levels.


Drugs like prednisolone and dexamethasone are often used to treat chronic, life-threatening conditions. 

Thus, doctors would use these hormonal drugs when other options have been exhausted.

These drugs are particularly good for lowering inflammation and managing allergies and autoimmune disorders.

These drugs are quite similar to cortisol, a kind of stress hormone. Adrenal glands produce cortisol in small amounts. 

This hormone lowers inflammation and immunity and raises blood sugar levels. Cortisol helps counter stress situations and ensures a consistent glucose supply for the brain. 

However, chronically raised cortisol level is bad for health. Similarly, drugs that act like cortisol also raise blood sugar levels. 

When people use these drugs briefly, that is not an issue. However, in the long run, these drugs are quite harmful.

Studies show that these drugs increase glucose production in the liver. They also prevent glucose intake by the skeletal muscles. In the long run, these medications raise blood sugar levels and cause insulin resistance.

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Thiazide diuretics

These drugs are among the first-line hypertension (high blood pressure) treatment. However, they also raise blood glucose levels. 

Doctors often use these drugs because they are safe and have few side effects. Doctors are more likely to use thiazide diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) and chlorthalidone in combination with other medications.

Studies show they might contribute to insulin resistance. They seem to impair insulin sensitivity, increase hepatic glucose production, and reduce glucose intake by various cells.

However, it is worth understanding that any such impact of these drugs on blood glucose levels is mild. Thus, some studies show that they might increase diabetes risk, while others do not.


These drugs are mainly used to treat hypertension. However, they are also used to prevent heart attacks. 

These drugs slow down your heart and reduce cardiac stress and oxygen requirement. Thus, these days doctors are more likely to use them to manage heart issues rather than reduce blood pressure. 

It appears that some beta blockers like propranolol and carvedilol are more likely to cause an increase in blood glucose. 

Some of these drugs might also be used to manage anxiety, tension, and migraine headaches.

These drugs reduce insulin release from beta-cells in the pancreas, thus mildly increasing blood glucose levels. 

However, their impact on blood glucose levels is mild; therefore, doctors may even prescribe them to those living with diabetes.

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Atypical antipsychotics

Medications like olanzapine, risperidone, and clozapine help treat conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

These medications are known to cause weight gain, impair insulin sensitivity, and raise blood sugar levels. 

Regretfully, these drugs have been reported to even cause diabetes as they might cause severe dysregulation in blood glucose levels. 

Protease inhibitors

These drugs, like indinavir and ritonavir, are among the most effective drugs used to treat HIV.

However, these drugs also reversibly block glucose transporter (Glut 4) receptors. Over the years, they cause an increase in blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. Additionally, in some, they might also cause beta-cell dysfunction.


Depression is now among the most common mental health disorders. Many people need to take these drugs for years. Studies show that some of them might raise blood sugar levels. 

It appears that amitriptyline, imipramine, fluoxetine, and moclobemide, may all increase blood sugar levels mildly. They are also known to cause weight gain. Additionally, these drugs also boost appetite in some.

Interestingly, not all antidepressants cause weight gain or increase blood glucose levels. Thus, studies in mice show that sertraline did not increase glycemia.


People often ask, “Does atorvastatin raise blood sugar” or “Does Lipitor raise blood sugar;” the answer is yes. Studies suggest that these drugs might contribute to insulin resistance.

These findings are a bit worrisome as these drugs are often prescribed to those with diabetes. They are among the most effective medications to lower bad cholesterol levels. 

Additionally, doctors frequently prescribe these medications to people living with high cholesterol, obesity, and pre-diabetes. It appears that these drugs, albeit slightly, may increase diabetes risk.

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Drugs like cyclosporine and tacrolimus are quite toxic and may also harm beta-cells in the pancreas. Thus, they might raise blood glucose levels. 

Doctors only use these medications to treat life-threatening conditions or after organ transplants.

Hormonal contraceptives

Hormonal contraceptives are not just used to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Doctors may also prescribe these drugs as a part of hormone replacement therapy. These drugs are also good for treating various other female health issues.

However, many of those who take these hormones report gaining body weight. It appears that some women are sensitive to these hormones. 

These medications may cause changes in glucose metabolism, and thus they may cause insulin resistance. Some studies suggest that these drugs might increase diabetes risk. 

However, it is worth understanding that any such increase in risk is minimal. Studies only report a slight rise in blood sugars. Some studies have even challenged these findings.

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Anti-seizure drugs

Drugs like gabapentin are not only used to prevent seizures. They are also used to manage neuropathic pains. Thus, many people ask, “Does gabapentin raise blood sugar levels?” 

Studies show that gabapentin is not likely to raise blood glucose in most patients. Compared to the placebo, which increased blood sugar levels in 0.4% of the patients, gabapentin raised blood sugar levels in 1.2% of the patients.

It appears that gabapentin may influence differently in various people. In some, it may even lower blood glucose levels. Since it rarely causes any rise in blood glucose levels, it is not a cause of significant concern.

Types of drugs that raise blood sugarExamples of these medications
GlucocorticosteroidsPrednisolone, Dexamethasone
Thiazide diureticsHydrochlorothiazide, Chlorthalidone
Beta-blockersPropranolol, Carvedilol
Atypical antipsychoticsOlanzapine, Risperidone, Clozapine
Protease inhibitorsIndinavir, Ritonavir
AntidepressantsAmitriptyline, Imipramine,
Fluoxetine, Moclobemide
StatinsAtorvastatin, Lipitor
ImmunosuppressantsCyclosporine, Tacrolimus
Hormonal contraceptivesEstrogens and progesterone (estradiol, levonorgestrel, desogestrel)
Progesterone alone (drospirenone or norethindrone)
Anti-seizure drugsGabapentin

The bottom line

It would be right to say that the list of drugs that raise blood sugar is pretty small. And, even those drugs do not significantly increase blood sugar levels. They do not contribute much to diabetes. 

There are some reports of certain drugs making diabetes worse, but that is generally due to individual sensitivities or other unidentified factors.

To conclude, some medications might increase blood sugar a bit. Many of them are taken daily, as they help manage chronic ailments like blood pressure, heart disease, pain, and depression. 

Thus, it is good to know what drugs raise blood sugar. If you doubt your medications raise blood sugar levels, always share your concerns with a doctor.

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  7. Statins and Diabetes: What You Should Know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published January 30, 2023. 
  8. Hormone contraceptives and how the body uses carbohydrates in women without diabetes.
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