People with asthma are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, and vice versa. Possible reasons include asthma medications and changes in the lungs due to one of the conditions.

Millions of people across the world live with asthma or diabetes. While they may not seem related, doctors are realizing that having one of these health conditions can increase the likelihood of developing the other.

This article will explain more about how both asthma and diabetes are related, what symptoms you may watch for, and how you might create an appropriate treatment plan. Your healthcare team can help determine your risk for either condition and related health concerns.

At first glance, it might seem like asthma and diabetes have nothing in common.

Asthma is a condition where inflammation causes the airways to close. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that asthma affected approximately 262 million people across the globe in 2019.

Diabetes is a condition where the body doesn’t make or can’t properly use the hormone insulin to naturally regulate blood sugar levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 26.9 million people were diagnosed with diabetes in the United States as of 2018.

Despite how different these conditions sound, however, researchers believe that they may be linked.

Numerous studies have shown an overlap between the two, including a 2021 review that found a connection between type 2 diabetes and asthma. A 2020 study also found that siblings of people with asthma were at a greater risk of getting type 1 diabetes.

Researchers have a handful of theories on how the two are related:

Obesity is a known risk factor for both asthma and diabetes.

It’s present in many people with both conditions. However, it’s still unclear what role it may play in people with both asthma and diabetes.

Managing risk factors like obesity is known to help improve outcomes for those with asthma and diabetes.

Asthma can make it harder to control blood sugar because hyperglycemia is associated with asthma attacks.

This may be due to steroid medications used to control asthma attacks or the increase of stress hormones during asthma attacks.

High levels of glucose can negatively impact how the lungs function.

According to one study, it’s associated with reduced lung function. It also has been shown to cause excessive mucus to develop in the airway.

If you have diabetes, treating it and keeping glucose levels in your target range may actually help to improve your asthma. Metformin, a drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, can improve asthma symptoms.

A 2021 study showed an association between asthma and type 2 diabetes. It has been theorized that this might be due to systemic inflammation or the use of corticosteroids.

Obesity is a common risk factor for both asthma and type 2 diabetes. However, current research doesn’t clearly state what role obesity may play in connecting the other two conditions.

It’s possible that using asthma inhalers can increase the likelihood of developing diabetes.

Older research from 2014 discusses the possibility that individuals with respiratory conditions who use inhaled corticosteroids are at an increased risk of getting and progressing diabetes. Researchers have noted the need for more research in this area.

The inhaled form of insulin known as Afrezza is not recommended for those with chronic lung diseases like asthma. This is because acute bronchospasms have been seen in people who have asthma when they use Afrezza.

It’s important to make sure your doctor is aware of any health conditions you have when they are prescribing medications.

If you have both asthma and diabetes, they may be related. Systemic inflammation and asthma medications could be the cause of this, but research is still continuing into how these conditions may be associated.

If you have either asthma or diabetes, talking with your doctor can help you determine what’s best to manage each condition. Left untreated, both of these conditions can become serious.