Diabetes and the Flu – Tips for Staying Your Healthiest this Season


Protecting yourself from the flu, especially if you have diabetes, is crucial. Complications  are more common in people with diabetes than in others, experts say. Did you know that if you have diabetes and the flu, your blood sugar levels can increase unknowingly?

An increase in blood sugar levels will not prompt you to eat, and this will, in turn, affect your levels more, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Debby Johnson, nutrition coach and diabetes editor for Fit4D told US News that checking your blood sugar levels a couple of times a day, if you have the flu, is a must. Fit4D is a personalized fitness and nutritional coaching service online for those with diabetes. She adds, “Feeling tired from the flu can mask symptoms of low blood glucose and high blood glucose.”

Getting hospitalized or becoming tremendously ill is a consequence of having the flu for diabetics because of their fragile immune system, the CDC reports.

Getting the flu shot between October and mid-November is recommended. And one should also get the swine flu (H1N1) vaccine if they are between the ages of 6 months and 24 years.

However, odds are, diabetics can still get a milder form of sickness even if they’re fully vaccinated. So here are four things that people with diabetes should remember:

Read and Double-Check OTC Cold Medication Labels

Medicines, especially cough syrups, can have sugar, and this can affect your blood glucose levels. Your pharmacist will be able to recommend which OTC meds have no sugar content.

Eat and Drink Regularly

Whatever sickness you have, it’s imperative to drink water or no-calorie fluids and munch on something all the time, CDC advises. Even if you’re experiencing an upset stomach, soft foods are a must to consume. If the situation doesn’t allow you to eat or drink anything at all, your doctor can adjust your diabetes medication, Johnson advises.

Identify the Need to Call Your Physician

The CDC says that if you are a diabetic and have been vomiting for more than six hours, head to the emergency room or contact your doctor. Wolf states that other identifiers include having difficulty breathing, severe diarrhea, losing more than 5 pounds, a temperature of more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, having a blood sugar level that is less than 60 mg/dL or more than 300 mg/dL, and experiencing confusion or signs of excessive sleepiness.

Daily Weight Recording

If you’re losing weight and not wanting to, it can be because your blood glucose levels are high.

Reduce the further spread of illness. You should always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then dispose of the tissue to help. Always wash your hands with soap or use a hand sanitizer. Don’t touch your eyes, mouth, or nose to decrease the spread of germs. Avoid contact with others and stay at home when you get sick.



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