Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dex and Blood Sugar, Part 1

We myelomiacs are all aware that dexamethasone (dex) can cause type II diabetes, sometimes permanent and sometimes reversible after discontinuing dex. This is most common among people who have taken "high-dose" dex, typically 40 mg per day four days on and four off.

I am taking "low-dose" dex, 40 mg once a week, Friday night before I go to bed. Nevertheless I already have a blood glucose monitor which I bought for another reason (not diabetes) and wanted to see what happens to my own blood sugar when I take dex. I decided to take a measurement about every half hour between waking and bedtime on three days: (1) Saturday, the day after taking dex, also called "buzz" day; (2) Sunday, "recovery" day; and (3) Wednesday, the fifth day, when effects from dex should be minimal.

The graph will be much easier to read if you click on it to enlarge it.
Blood Glucose Chart

Here is a table with the actual numbers, exact times, and comments.

This experiment is only two thirds complete, but already somewhat instructive. I couldn't wait to post:
  • About two years ago I ran a similar experiment for different reasons, and got an average reading of 104 mg/dL over parts of three days.
  • Saturday's average reading was 144 mg/dL, much higher.
  • None of my readings quite reached 200, which some say can be a signal of diabetes.
  • Sunday's (today's) average is 101, even with big meals, much lower than Saturday.
  • Glucose pretty much went up after eating carbohydrates, then down again, but with a few surprises:
    • The highest Saturday spike, 193, was measured shortly after finishing a big oatmeal breakfast with fruit and juice.
    • Later, a large serving of homemade chocolate fudge pudding, about 270 calories, seemed to raise glucose by only about 10 points. Are chocolate and milk able to slow absorption of sugars?
    • Still later, a slice of gluten-free bread with honey seemed to raise glucose by about 20 points.
    • All but one of Sunday's readings were lower than the lowest reading of Saturday.
I'll post about this again after Wednesday's test.


  1. Hi Don,
    really interesting. Dex apart, I've read that blood glucose goes down with/after exercise. When do you usually run? And what happen then?
    Also, which kind of device do you use to monitor blood sugar?

  2. Hi Sherlock,

    Saturday I ran early, then bought a battery for the glucose meter before the first measurement, which was still taken before eating anything.

    Sunday I ran mid-afternoon and tested immediately before and after the run (10km) but saw nothing remarkable in blood glucose levels. I am curious what happens DURING a run and after a longer run - maybe someday I'll check that.

    I use an Accu-Check Active finger-stick blood glucose meter.