by: Susan Klick, MSN, RN, CNL
The flu can make existing health conditions worse and is especially dangers for people with chronic health conditions, like diabetes. People with diabetes both (Type 1 and 2), even when well-managed, are at high risk of serious flu complications, often resulting in hospitalization and sometimes even death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications.
Illness can make it harder to control your blood sugars. The illness might raise your sugar but sometimes people don’t feel like eating when they are sick, and this can cause blood sugar levels to fall. It is important to follow sick day rules.
Vaccination is the best protection against the flu, and flu shots are approved for use in people with diabetes as it has a long, established safety record in people with diabetes. Therefore, the CDC recommends that both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics, who are 6 months of age and older, receive a flu vaccine. Check with your physician regarding the nasal spray vaccine as the safety of the nasal spray vaccine in people with diabetes and some other high risk conditions has not been established.
Your physician may also recommend a pneumonia vaccine if you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
Contact your doctor’s office immediately if you experience flu-like symptoms. Anti-viral medications may be prescribed if you test positive for the flu that can make your symptoms less severe and make you feel better faster. Antiviral drugs fight influenza viruses in your body. They are different from antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections. Antiviral medications may help people with conditions that increase the risk of complications from flu (like diabetes) if given within the first 48 hours after symptoms start.
Sick Day Rules:
- Continue taking your diabetes pills or insulin
- Test your blood glucose every four hours and track your results
- Drink lots of calorie-free liquids to stay hydrated
- Try to eat as you would normally
- Weigh yourself every day. Losing weight without trying is a sign of high blood glucose
Contact your health care provider or go to an emergency room immediately if you:
- Are unable to eat normally
- Go six hours without being able to keep food down
- Have severe diarrhea
- Lose five pounds or more
- Have a temperature over 101o Fahrenheit
- Get a blood glucose reading lower than 60 mg/dL or more than 300 mg/dL
- Have trouble breathing
- Feel sleepy or can’t think clearly