21. August 2019
Family doctors often fail to recognise cortisone-induced diabetes

Long-term cortisone use can lead to a specific type of diabetes that is often not recognised right away, according to the German Diabetes Association (DDG).

Cortisone, which used to treat diseases such as asthma and autoimmune disorders, and other medications containing steroids are among the most common triggers of this type of diabetes, which is called type 3 diabetes. Just like ‘classic’ diabetes, this type is characterised by high blood sugar levels.


“This type of diabetes can be completely reversed if the cortisone is gradually discontinued”, says Stuttgart-based diabetologist and DDG president Monika Kellerer. But cases are still being improperly treated, since many family doctors are unfamiliar with this form of diabetes. If there are any doubts, patients should seek advice from a specialist clinic or a medical department specialised in diabetes, recommends Kellerer.

The higher the cortisone dose and the longer it is used, the greater the risk of developing this type of diabetes. Overweight patients are especially at risk. Patients with a familial predisposition and a HbA1c (average blood sugar level over the previous three months) of over 5.7 per cent also have a higher risk.


If the cortisone cannot be stopped or blood sugar levels do not normalise after gradually reducing the medication, the next line of treatment is the same as for type 2 diabetes, beginning with dietary changes and exercise. If those measures fail, tablets and eventually insulin are prescribed to lower blood sugar.


author: kf/ktg




Presse release: Häufig verkannt: Sonderformen des Diabetes – Auslöser können Medikamente, Virusinfektionen, Mukoviszidose oder Gendefekte sein (DDG), 06.08.2019

[Exceptional forms of diabetes often not recognised – triggers include medications, viral infections, cystic fibrosis and gene defects] (DDG), 6 August 2019 (in German)