What to Do with Diabetes and the Flu


Dealing with diabetes and SWOOP in comes flu season?  Let’s see what our best defenses are.

Get a flu shot.  You might think it’s too late in the season to vaccinate, but it’s not.  Flu shots are still readily available across the country and you can – and should – get one.  (And if you’re already dealing with the flu, skip to the next set of recommendations.  Also, I’m sorry you’re sick.)  

Track your symptoms.  Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, aching body, headache, chills, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and/or diarrhea. 

Take preventative actions.  Do what you can to keep germs at bay. Wash your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) often throughout the day, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth (because that’s a delicious way for germs to jump into your body).  Don’t share drinks or utensils, in efforts to keep germs contained.

If you’re sick, STAY HOME.  This can be frustrating advice, especially when your job depends on you being there, but do your best to keep your sick self, or sick child, at home.  Don’t go to the grocery store, don’t drop something off at work – keep your germs at home.

If you’re sick, call your doctor early.  Don’t wait until day 5 of your illness to reach out to your medical team.  As soon as symptoms start, reach out, as antiviral drugs work best when started as early as possible (the Centers for Disease Control recommend within 48 hours of symptoms starting).  Involving your doctor early can make a big difference in your recovery.

Don’t forget about diabetes.  Even if you have the flu, you still need to take all of your diabetes medications, and you also need to keep extra tight tabs on your blood sugars.  Checking for ketones is also crucial, especially if you are running high and/or dehydrated.  And if you’re presenting ketones, call your doc ASAP. 

Stay fed and watered.  Feeling crummy might keep you from wanting to eat or drink, but stay on top of your diabetes by staying hydrated and snacking whenever possible (while tracking BGs, of course).   Be sure to have glucagon (or a quick-acting hypoglycemia treatment on hand that’s easy) , just in case you’re vomiting and also dealing with low blood sugars. 

Sleep. This one might be hard to come by, but do your best to sleep as much as possible so you can recover fully and quickly.  Rest, hydration, and good blood sugar management can help you fight back against the flu, so get snuggly, grab a water bottle, and keep your meter close by.

Flu season can be a scary time for people with diabetes because we always seem to be part of the “vulnerable population” of people who might have to deal with some flu-related complications.  But there’s a lot we can do to help prevent the flu, and also to treat it, if we end up getting it.  Stay as well as possible out there!

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