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Look Before You Take That OTC Medication: It Could Be Deadly If You Have Diabetes

People with diabetes typically know they have to be extremely careful when it comes to what they put inside their bodies. They have to scour each and every food label to ensure that sugars and carbohydrates are within appropriate levels. If not, they run the risk of becoming dangerously sick or even dying. If you have diabetes, did you know you also have to take caution about what medications you take? Along with using caution when taking drugs made for diabetes, as an alarming number are now proven unsafe, even seemingly harmless over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can have life-threatening risks for those with diabetes.


If you have a cold or are prone to allergies, decongestants may seem like the obvious choice for relief. Unfortunately, they can pose health risks for people with diabetes. Although effective for clearing out stuffy noses and relieving sinus headaches, they should only be taken under the supervision of a doctor. Decongestants can decrease the effectiveness of insulin and oral diabetes medications. In other words, they can cause a dangerous rise in blood sugar levels, also called hyperglycemia.

Throat Lozenges

When you have a sore throat, the obvious choice for help is to reach for a throat lozenge. Not only do they soothe a sore and scratchy throat, but they also typically taste pretty great, too. Unfortunately, the reason for their delicious taste is they are often loaded with sugar, which is a problem for people battling with diabetes. You may not think the lozenges pose that much of a risk, as they are usually pretty small, but the sugar content in this type of medication can be through the roof. Instead of taking your chances of increasing your blood sugar levels, opt for sugar-free versions, instead. If you can’t easily find them at your store, ask a pharmacist for assistance.

Pain and Fever Medications

Although pain and fever medications don’t typically contain sugar, they can cause potentially harmful effects for people with diabetes in other ways. Occasional use of fever and pain reducers shouldn’t pose a threat, but frequent use can cause serious damage to your liver and kidneys, which may already be compromised because of the diabetes. If you do, in fact, already have kidney problems, never take this type of medication unless it is under the direction of your doctor, as taking high doses frequently can cause dangerous illness, or even death.

Those with diabetes who have fevers should become concerned, as high temperatures are usually an indication of infection. With infection, glucose monitoring becomes even more important because infection can raise your sugar level. Contact your doctor if you do have a fever to see if your medication needs adjustment.

Cough Suppressants

Thinking of reaching for that bottle of cough syrup that promises to let you sleep through the night? If so, you’ll need to think again. These type of medications typically contain alcohol, which contributes to the drowsy feeling those who take it experience. The problem is, alcohols are dangerous to those with diabetes, and can cause you to become extremely sick. Similarly, cough medications that contain sugar—and many do—are also dangerous. Look for cough suppressants that are sugar- and alcohol-free. If not, you could cause a dangerous spike in your blood sugar levels.

Allergy Medications

If you suffer from allergies, taking antihistamines and other similar medications might be a daily habit. The good news is, allergy medications are generally safe to take, provided they don’t have sedating effects. If you’re unsure of what you should take, consult with your doctor.

When Supposedly Safe Medication Has Harmful Effects

The general public trusts the medications that are sold to them, and usually take them with the assurance that they are safe. When they fail, however, and cause the death of a loved one, you typically want someone to be held accountable for that negligence. If a loved one died because of an OTC medication, you may be entitled to receive compensation. The attorneys of Wayne Wright have helped other people, just like you, with wrongful death cases in Austin. Contact us today to learn if we can help you by calling 800-237-3334.