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What People with Diabetes Should Know About Allergies



Feb 12th, 2018

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What People with Diabetes Should Know About Allergies

What People with Diabetes Should Know About Allergies: Main Image
While allergies don’t directly affect blood sugar levels, medications may interfere with your eating schedule

The sunshine, fresh air, newly budding trees, and freshly cut lawns make spring a favorite time of year for many people. For others, these changes can signal the misery of seasonal allergies. If you have diabetes, and you’re among the 30% of adults and 40% of children in the US with seasonal allergies, you should take precautions to make sure your allergy medications don’t interfere with diabetes medications and management.

Keep an eye on side effects

Allergies don’t directly affect blood sugar levels, but you may reach for a medication that interferes with your eating schedule. This can contribute to unexpected blood sugar issues. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, one in five people who use antihistamines become sleepy or feel sedated.

If you take one of these products midday, it may cause you to fall asleep and miss your regular meal time. Missed or delayed meals may contribute to low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). To avoid this issue, ask your doctor or pharmacist which allergy medication is least likely to cause this issue, and which one is right for you. Most new antihistamines have a lower risk of causing sedation.

Also keep in mind that some symptoms of allergies, such as fatigue and lethargy, can be similar to symptoms of low blood sugar.

If you’ve used oral decongestants in the past, these may be an option for you again. However, remember that some of these products can increase blood pressure, and should not be used by people with a history of high blood pressure.

Use targeted treatment

If you only have one or two allergy symptoms, you may be able to use a more targeted treatment. For example, itchy eyes may be treated effectively with over-the-counter anti-allergy eye drops. If nasal symptoms are your main complaint, ask your pharmacist to recommend a nasal spray that may address these issues.

These drops and sprays are designed for temporary relief of eye and nasal-related allergy symptoms. If your symptoms tend to last for more than a few days or weeks at a time, you may need to ask your doctor about finding a different medication that is designed for safe, long-term use.

Try an ounce of prevention

One of the best ways to minimize your misery during allergy season is to avoid your allergy triggers altogether. At the very least, you can minimize your exposure, and this alone may be enough to ease symptoms without needing medications. To reduce your exposure to allergy triggers:

  • Keep windows closed during high pollen periods; use air conditioning in your home and car.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Use “mite-proof” bedding covers to limit exposure to dust mites, which are present in all homes and bedding.
  • If you live in a humid environment, use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture in the air and help prevent mold.
  • Wash your hands after touching pets, and have a non-allergic person handle pet grooming, preferably in a well-ventilated area or outside your home.

Other ways to limit exposure to your worst allergy triggers include:

  • Knowing how pollen levels change with the seasons: in the spring and summer, levels are highest in the evening; in the late summer and early fall, levels are highest in the morning.
  • During allergy season, keeping your home’s windows and doors shut.
  • Taking a shower, washing your hair, and changing your clothes after you’ve been working or playing outdoors.
  • Wearing a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask when mowing the lawn or doing other chores outdoors, and taking appropriate medication beforehand.

(Allergy Facts. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Available from URL:

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