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Why Organ Transplants Can Lead to Diabetes

Getting a new heart, liver, kidney, lung, or other organ can save your life. Sometimes, it can also lead to type 2 diabetes.

How often does it happen? Experts aren't sure, but it could affect more than 1 in 10 people who get a transplant. For them, diabetes is especially risky. It makes organ rejection and dangerous infections more likely. But it can be treated.

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What Causes Diabetes After an Organ Transplant?

After an organ transplant, you need to take drugs for the rest of your life so your body doesn’t reject the new organ. These drugs help organ transplants succeed, but many of them, such as the medication tacrolimus (Astagraf, Prograf) or steroids, can cause diabetes or worsen it.

Apart from those medicines, you are also more likely to get diabetes if:

  • You’re obese.
  • Diabetes runs in your family.
  • You're African-American or Latino.
  • You're older than 40.
  • You have hepatitis C.

Talk to your doctor if you think that you're at high risk of getting diabetes. He may be able to prescribe medicines that are less likely to cause it.

Will It Last?

Diabetes after an organ transplant may go away if your doctor changes or lowers your medication dosage. Many people can stop taking steroids after 6 months or so. This may solve the problem.

While someone has diabetes, they may need medicine to manage it. Lifestyle changes make a difference, too. They include:

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on January 27, 2015

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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