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Posted: February 13, 2024

Diabetes & Non-prescription Medicines

A picture of a hand holding a diabetes monitoring device.

Selecting non-prescription medicines is usually a simple matter. You ask your Sobeys Pharmacist for a recommendation or you walk down the aisle that has the kind of product you’re looking for. It sounds easy, right? Not for everyone.

If you have diabetes, you must read product labels very carefully and watch for ingredients that can have an affect on blood glucose levels. If you have any doubt at all about whether a product is safe for you, ask your doctor or Sobeys Pharmacist before you take it.

An image shows a woman is holding some medicine and discussing something on the phone.

Here are some guidelines that can help you make wise medication choices:

  • Pain relievers: Occasional use of most oral over-the-counter (non-prescription) pain relievers won’t affect blood sugar levels as long as you stick to the recommended doses. Prolonged use or higher doses may cause problems and should be discussed with a doctor or pharmacist. Some creams and ointments may actually worsen pain in people with diabetic neuropathy, so it is important to consult a doctor or pharmacist before using these products.
  • Cough, cold, and sinus medications: Occasional use of antihistamines generally doesn’t affect blood sugar, but decongestants may increase blood sugar levels. Cough medicines may contain sugar or alcohol.
  • Heartburn relievers: Occasional heartburn or indigestion can be treated with a stomach acid neutralizer or an acid blocker, but frequent symptoms may be a sign of slowed stomach emptying and should be evaluated by a physician.
  • Quit smoking aids: Smoking cessation products don’t affect blood sugar levels and can dramatically improve your chances of quitting. Because smoking increases the risks of developing diabetic complications, these products often play a role in diabetes management.