Are Cough Syrups Safe for Diabetics?

Are Cough Syrups Safe for Diabetics?

October 23
19:57 2023
Cough treatment can be tricky for diabetics as many over-the-counter (OTC) products contain sugar that can raise blood sugar levels.

Coughing is your body’s way of clearing the airways from irritants or excess mucus. It can occur with changing weather, allergies, cold and flu, and other lung infections. You either get a wet or dry cough, and both of these can cause discomfort and fatigue. In such conditions, the most common medicine we reach out for is cough syrup. However, people with diabetes have to be more careful due to the sugar content in these cough syrups. You must check the ingredient list and ensure it doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels.

This blog aims to provide necessary information on cough syrups that are safe for you. You can make an informed decision and pick a cough syrup that suits your needs.

What is Diabetes?

The key role of glucose in the body is to provide energy, but when the glucose levels in the blood are too high, it causes diabetes. The pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which is responsible for carrying glucose to blood cells to produce energy. If you have diabetes, your body either does not produce any insulin or often misuses it, leading to high blood glucose levels. This condition can harm your heart, kidneys, nerves, eyes, and renal function.

There are two types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t make insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when the insulin is insufficient or the body is not using it correctly.

Why Should People with Diabetes Be Careful with Cough Syrups?

The biggest issue for people with diabetes is that several cough syrups and liquid medications for the cold and flu include sugar. Before you buy the medicine, you must read the list of components in the cough syrup.

Two types of ingredients are listed on the cough syrup labels: inactive and active.

●     Inactive Substances

Inactive substances in cough syrups have no role in healing. They are usually added as preservatives and to improve consistency, flavour, and colour. Sugar and alcohol are also in some syrups, increasing blood sugar levels. This could be challenging for a person with diabetes to control their blood sugar. Be sure to check for these when picking up medicine at the pharmacy.

●     Active Substances

When it comes to treating cough and cold, medicines contain active ingredients. While many medications used to treat cold and flu are pharmacological combinations, some have just one active component.

In general, people with diabetes should look for these active substances found in cough syrups:

  1. Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant in many dry cough preparations. When taken at recommended doses, it’s safe for people with diabetes.
  2. Guaifenesin is an expectorant in many wet cough remedies. This ingredient will help get the mucus out of your airways through coughing. It’s considered safe for people with diabetes.
  3. Doxylamine is an antihistamine. The body releases histamine chemicals during allergic reactions, leading to sneezing, coughing, and runny nose. Doxylamine in cough syrups reduces these symptoms without affecting the blood sugar levels of people with diabetes.

Side Effects Caused by Cough Syrups

If you have diabetes, then you might have the following symptoms when consuming cough syrup:

  • Pain in stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Feeling nervous
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Consume the syrup as directed by the doctor, with or without food.
  • Do not increase the duration or dose of the syrup
  • Some doctors may also adjust your daily diabetic medications or insulin to balance the side effects of cough syrup.
  • Keep a check on your blood sugar levels when taking cough syrup.
  • You must consult a doctor or a pharmacist before buying any cough syrup. Notifying your doctor about your diabetic conditions and recent reports may help you select the correct syrup.

Key Points to Keep in Mind Before Using a Cough Syrup

In conclusion, cough syrups are safe for diabetic people if you pick the right one. Choosing syrups with active substances, such as dextromethorphan, guaifenesin and doxylamine, is advisable. Avoid syrups with inactive ingredients such as alcohol or sugar, which can spike blood glucose levels. Always consult your doctor before incorporating new medication into your routine if you have diabetes.

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