Having a cold or flu is no fun for anyone. The sore throat, runny nose, burning eyes, and fever-induced aches and pains? No, thank you. I feel I can safely say that most of us would like to just sleep right through them, and that’s probably exactly what you need most of the time. Lots and lots of sleep.

However, if you have diabetes, things are a little more complicated.

If you have diabetes, getting a cold or flu comes with a degree of risk. Why? Because there are a lot of factors that come with being sick that can affect your diabetes management routine. Many can even cause dangerous fluctuations in your blood glucose levels.

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/nyul
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/nyul

Further, being sick puts added strain on your body, which makes it even more difficult for your body to properly use insulin. Conversely, having diabetes makes it harder for your body to fight off illness, meaning you may stay sick longer.

Clearly, that’s not ideal. However, there are things you can do to protect yourself. We want to offer you some tips and tricks for managing your diabetes while sick, so that you can focus on the task of getting better without unnecessary stress.

Take a look!

1. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR MEDICATION

When you’re sick, it’s important that you continue to take your diabetes medication. In fact, it’s probable that your blood glucose levels are going to fluctuate more than they normally do. If you plan to take an over-the-counter medication it’s a good idea to consult your physician or pharmacist about its potential interactions with your diabetes medication.

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Remember: some medications (even cough drops!) have sugar in them. When you can, select a lower-sugar version of the medication. If you’re confused, ask the store’s pharmacist.

 

2. CHECK YOUR NUMBERS

In addition to increasing the frequency with which you test your blood glucose levels, it’s a good idea to also test your ketone levels when you’re sick. Because of your cold or flu symptoms, there’s a good chance you won’t recognize your typical symptoms of high or low blood sugar. Therefore, you should shoot for testing every 4 hours, unless your doctor has a different recommendation.

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For people with type 2 diabetes, it may only be necessary to check ketone levels if your blood glucose levels are higher than 300.

3. BE PREPARED

It’s important that you, your physician, and your diabetes educator establish a management plan that incorporates being sick before you’re actually sick. Your plan should include a list of medications that you can take without interfering with your diabetes management, a meal plan, and a recommended schedule for testing.

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You may also want to establish a threshold for when it’s time to consult your doctor about your cold or flu.