What Diabetics Need to Know About Allergies

Achoo! It’s that time of year again!

Chronic sneezing? Congested drippy nose and itchy eyes? That can only mean one thing: allergy season! And if you’re diabetic, it may feel even more severe. Whether you’re allergic to dust, pollen, animals, certain foods or other environmental elements, keep reading! In this article, we reveal how to minimize allergy symptoms, avoid the various triggers and manage your blood sugar, so you can have optimal health even during the most allergy-prone times of the year.  Read on for more!

Seasonal Allergies: Do I Have Them?

With more than one in six Canadians battling hay fever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis each year, depending on where you live, you could be suffering from March to November. In the spring, tree pollens tend to be the culprit of airborne allergens, with grass pollens in late spring to summer and weed pollens in the late summer to early fall.

You’ll know your hacking and sneezing are the results of an allergy if you suffer from any of the symptoms listed below without experiencing fever or muscle ache, and if it lasts longer than seven to 10 days.

  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat


Allergy Medication: What Are My Options?

There are certain medications that, if not checked, can significantly impact your blood glucose levels.  You should always talk to your doctor first, before taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications. Let’s quickly examine some of the options.

  1. Oral and Nasal Decongestants

Available as oral medicines, such as Sudafed and Afrinol, or as nasal sprays such as Afrin and Neo-Synephrine, decongestants can help to temporarily relieve a stuffy nose. However, they may also raise blood sugars, your blood pressure, and heart rate. Be very careful about checking your blood sugars if you take a decongestant. If you take insulin, you may also need to adjust your dose.

  1. Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids block allergic reactions by reducing and treating inflammation. Available in pills, nasal sprays, inhalers, liquids, eye drops and creams, common brands include Beconase, Flonase, Flovent and Nasacort AQ. As powerful as they are for treating several allergy symptoms all at the same time, the main side effect for diabetics, is high blood sugars. This happens because steroids block the effect of insulin, causing insulin resistance. They also trigger the liver to release glucose. You need to frequently check your blood sugar when taking any of these medicines, and you may also need to increase your insulin dose. As always, check with your doctor first.

  1. Oral and Nasal Antihistamines

Antihistamines such as Alavert, Claritin and Allegra Allergy tend to not directly affect blood sugar levels. However, if you take the kind that makes you drowsy, such as Benadryl, which contains diphenhydramine, you may not recognize the symptoms of high or low blood sugars.

Allergy Triggers: How to Avoid Them

Learning to identify your allergy triggers is crucial if you want to avoid any diabetes-related complications. Luckily, there are some steps you can take:

  • If you’re allergic to pollen, close the windows at home and in the car, and use an air conditioner filter to remove irritating allergens
  • Dust your house frequently and clean the curtains and rugs
  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and occasionally vacuum your furniture
  • If you work outdoors, wear a microfibre mask
  • If you have a damp basement, use a dehumidifier to discourage the growth of mold, as mould is another potential allergen
  • If you have food allergies talk to a doctor about alternatives that will not heighten your blood sugar levels

Did you find this article useful? Get more helpful tips and tricks to make managing diabetes easier by visiting our blog. Or learn more about our pain-free lancing device Genteel. It’s perfect for diabetics of all ages and can be used with your existing blood glucose meter and test strips.

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