Navigating Sick Days: Cold and Flu Management for Individuals with Diabetes

Kartier Falkenberg

Navigating Sick Days: Cold and Flu Management for Individuals with Diabetes

When you have diabetes, managing your health requires extra attention, especially during cold and flu season. Illnesses like the common cold or flu can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels, making it crucial to have a plan in place for sick days. Here’s a guide to help you navigate through those challenging times.

Prevention is the first line of defence. Have a Sick Day Kit stocked with spare glucose monitoring supplies, thermometer, emergency phone numbers, and a written plan for medications. Your Credentialled Diabetes Educator can help with a written plan that is tailored to your needs. Consider getting a flu vaccination annually to reduce your risk of contracting the flu virus. The flu vaccine is especially important for individuals with diabetes, as they are more susceptible to complications from the flu. Also consider keeping your COVID-19 and pneumonia vaccinations up to date. Additionally, practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands frequently with soap and water, and avoid close contact with sick individuals whenever possible.

First and foremost, keep a close eye on your blood glucose levels. Illness can cause fluctuations, so monitor your levels frequently. Aim to maintain your blood glucose within your target range, and adjust your insulin or medication dosage as needed, under the guidance of your healthcare provider. Depending on your situation, you may also need to monitor ketone levels. See your Credentialled Diabetes Educator for a written plan.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water or sugar-free beverages. Remember if you are unable to eat, it is important to replace the carbohydrates from meals with sweet beverages such as full-sugar soft drink, juice or sports drinks. If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting, replacing electrolytes is important. Products like Hydralyte can help replace what you’ve lost. Dehydration can worsen symptoms and elevate blood sugar levels, so make it a priority to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Nutrition plays a vital role in managing both diabetes and illness. Opt for easy-to-digest foods like broth-based soups, crackers, ice-cream, rice, pasta, or mashed potato. Be cautious of over-the-counter medications, which may impact blood sugar levels. Always check with your pharmacist or healthcare provider before taking any new medications.

Rest is crucial for your body’s recovery process. Give yourself permission to take a break and focus on getting well. Prioritise restorative activities like sleep and relaxation to help your body fight off the illness more effectively.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen or if you’re unsure about how to manage your diabetes during illness. Your healthcare team is there to support you and provide guidance tailored to your individual needs.

By taking proactive steps to prevent illness and manage your health during sick days, you can navigate through cold and flu season with greater ease while keeping your diabetes in check. Remember, self-care is key to a speedy recovery and overall well-being.

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