Can Cephalexin raise blood sugar? (5+ symptoms)

In this article, we will discuss whether Cephalexin affects blood sugar levels or not. Furthermore, we’ll discuss what research suggests on this, the potential link between Cephalexin and blood glucose levels, how to manage BGL while taking Cephalexin and what the other possible side effects of Cephalexin one must be aware of. 

Can Cephalexin raise blood sugar?

Cephalexin is not commonly associated with the rise in blood sugar levels as a side effect. However, some individuals, particularly those having diabetes have been found to report complaints of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) while taking Cephalexin alongside anti-diabetic (Metformin). (1)

Cephalexin is an FDA-approved antibiotic that belongs to the cephalosporin class of drugs. It exerts its action by inhibiting the cell walls of bacteria and ultimately killing or inactivating them. Cephalexin is used to treat a broad range of bacterial infections including respiratory tract infections (bronchitis, pneumonia) and UTIs among others. (1)

It’s important to remember that everyone reacts differently to medications. Some may tolerate them well while others may experience greater side effects comparitively. Also, drug interactions and pre-existing medical conditions (diabetes in this case) should not be neglected as they can exacerbate the risk of side effects. (1)

These interactions are not that common, but as I said, consult your healthcare provider before starting any antibiotic or other medications to rule out the risk of drug-drug and drug-disease interactions. 

What is the link between Cephalexin and blood sugar? 

Cephalexin, as a cephalosporin antibiotic, is generally not known for having a significant impact on blood sugar levels. However, individual responses to medications can vary as everyone is unique in terms of their brain chemistry and genetic makeup and there have been rare reports of antibiotics affecting glucose metabolism in some people. (2)

The exact mechanism by which this occurs is not fully understood, however, it is believed that individuals with diabetes are more at risk. They must monitor their blood glucose levels regularly especially when starting a new medication as diabetes management often involves multiple medications and cephalosporin antibiotics including Cephalexin have been found to interact with them and alter the therapeutic effect. (1,2)

If you have any concerns regarding a rise in blood sugar levels while taking Cephalexin or experience any unusual symptoms, it’s best to reach out to your doctor for further evaluation.  

What does research suggest? 

According to a research study, scientists performed a clinical trial to determine the effects of Cephalexin on healthy individuals. They conducted a study with 12 volunteers and gave them randomly either Metformin 500mg with a fake pill (placebo) or a combination of 500mg of Metformin with 500mg of Cephalexin. (3)

Using a specific method, they checked the levels of Metformin in an individual’s blood and urine. The results showed that Cephalexin alters the way the body processes Metformin. They found out that when taken together, Cephalexin increased the amount of Metformin in the blood by 34% and the overall exposure to Metformin by about 24% leading to a significant reduction in sugar levels. It also reduced how quickly the body clears Metformin through the kidneys. (3)

This information is helpful for doctors while prescribing antibiotics like Cephalexin to patients concurrently taking other medications for specific health conditions. 

What are the symptoms of raised blood sugar levels?

Here are some symptoms of increased blood sugar levels that one must be aware of: (2)

  • Frequent urination
Elevations in BGL can lead to increased urinary output.
  • Excessive thirst
Dehydration resulting from increased urine output may lead to a feeling of intense thirst.
  • Persistent hunger
Despite eating, people with increased sugar levels may feel hungry more frequently. 
  • Unexplained weight loss
When your body can’t utilize glucose for energy due to insulin resistance or insufficient production of insulin, your body will start breaking down muscle fat which leads to weight loss. 
  • Fatigue
Less glucose utilization by the body makes a person feel more tired. 
  • Blurred vision
Alterations in blood sugar levels can cause vision problems.
  • Slow healing of wounds
Elevated levels of blood sugar may slow down the body’s ability to heal, leading to slower recovery from cuts, bruises or wounds. 
  • Frequent infections
People with uncontrolled diabetes become more sensitive to infections like UTIs, yeast or skin infections. 
  • Irritability
Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can also impact your mood and cause mood swings or irritability. 
  • Dry mouth
A person can experience a dry or sticky feeling in the mouth due to dehydration caused by frequent urination. 

What other side effects are common with  Cephalexin use? 

Cephalexin, although does not directly affect blood sugar levels, may be associated with other common side effects including: (1)

  • Gastrointestinal issues (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal pain)
  • Allergic reactions (symptoms include rashes, itching or swelling on the skin, severe dizziness and difficulty breathing)
  • Yeast infections (particularly in women)
  • Hypersensitivity reactions (Steven Johnson syndrome)
  • Blood disorders (changes in blood cell count such as a decrease in WBCs)
  • Kidney issues
  • Claustridia difficile infection
  • Joint pain
  • Vaginal itching or discharge
  • Mouth or tongue discolouration
  • Fatigue

How to manage blood sugar levels while using Cephalexin? 

If you notice any unusual symptoms related to high blood sugar levels as discussed earlier, it’s advisable to promptly inform your healthcare provider. They can guide you based on your specific situation. 

Make sure you stick to the prescribed dosage regimen and frequency of medication dose. Do not alter anything without consulting your doctor. Do not stop taking Cephalexin abruptly even if you sense improvement in symptoms, otherwise, failure to do so may result in antibiotic resistance. (1)

If you’re already a diabetic person and taking antibiotics for specific health conditions, your doctor might advise you to take both medications with at least a 2-3-hour gap to avoid the risk of interactions. 

Keep yourself well hydrated to prevent kidney infection associated with Cephalexin use and avoid the overconsumption of alcohol as it may interact with the medications you’re taking in the worst possible way. Adopt healthy lifestyle modification approaches like regular exercise and a balanced diet to keep your blood sugar levels manageable. 

Schedule frequent follow-up visits to your doctor to monitor the blood glucose profile and other related concerns so your doctor can adjust the treatment accordingly. Also, always remember to check the expiry of medications like Cephalexin before use as using the medication after its expiration date is crucial. (1,3)

Summing up the Cephalexin-blood sugar relationship:

As a pharmacist, from my experience in dealing with patients, the majority of people prescribed Cephalexin antibiotics have tolerated it well and did not report the side effects that do not go on their own. I would just advise you to inform your doctor about your medical and medication history thoroughly to prevent the risk of drug-drug and drug-disease interaction and follow the recommended guidance. 

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