COPD and Insulin Dependent Diabetes. Does anyone else here have both these conditions?

If you do, have you had to reduce your insulin intake since having COPD? I am having problems lately with my glucose levels dropping steadily and having 'hypos' even though my eating habits haven't changed. The only reason I can think of is that I am using up more calories through needing more energy to breathe ~ I'm breathless often! I'm on Spiriva and Ventolin inhalers. Am due to see Diabetic Nurse soon but just wondered if anyone else has experienced this? Thanks.


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5 Replies

  • Hi, yes I have COPD & am diabetic, the only time that my insulin is affected is when I'm taking antibiotics and steroid pills. But please remember we are all different, you are right to discuss this with the diabetic centre and also with your respiratory nurse, but upwards and onwards as they say.

  • I am diabetic and have bronchiectasis, but am not allowed steroid tablets because it will play havoc with my diabetis, I have a steroid inhaler with a volumiser and take to puffs morning and night I also have ventolin for sometimes bad days and breathless days, I do hope you will be feeling better


  • Thank you for replying. Interesting you both mention steroid medication playing havoc with the diabetes. I'll bear that in mind when seeing the nurse because I think I need a more effective inhaler as the ones I have don't seem very effective ~ I still puff and pant regardless! Trouble is I see different nurses for the two conditions, they just deal with their own speciality, so to speak, and there doesn't seem to be much joined up thinking if you know what I mean. My glucose levels are all over the place at the moment and I suspect it's because I'm using up calories just trying to breathe. I'll report back here after I've seen the diabetic nurse, it might be of interest to some of you.


  • Hi Janet. I have bronchiectasis and diabetes. My glucose levels are not easy to maintain because I'm on Prednisone (steroid) for my kidney I can never tell what's going on. Steroids are notorious for playing havoc with glucose in some people. I did lose 5 kilos (11 lbs.) when my bronchiectasis was at it's worst and undiagnosed. That was 2 months ago. It takes something like 10 times more calories to breathe when you have a COPD! The waters are so murky when we have more than one illness going's hard to figure it all out. Good luck with the nurse visit. Louise

  • Thanks Louise, sounds like you've had a rough time of it yourself, I do hope you've stabilised now. Yes you're so right about murky waters with two conditions going on, each affecting the other! Spoke to nurse earlier and she confirmed that struggling to breathe will use up more calories and so I'm likely to need less insulin. She explained more about the action of insulin on the food I eat too and the key times to test my blood so that I get a better picture of what's going on. The strategy now is to have a lower dose of insulin each day and monitor it and then adjust gradually upwards if necessary. I'm going to see the Resp nurse later this month about inhalers etc so I'll report back here on that too. These things are sent to try us!


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