Battling a cold, getting over an injury or undergoing surgery is no fun for anyone. For people with diabetes, managing blood sugar is an extra concern. The stress of illness or injury can cause blood sugar to rise and make insulin less effective. This can lead to serious problems, including diabetic coma. That’s why it’s important to know what to do when illness strikes.
When you’re sick, your blood sugar can be high even if you’re not eating much. So it’s especially important to take your diabetes medication on time. You might need extra medication. If you take diabetes pills, you may also need to take insulin until you’ve recovered. And if you already take insulin, you may need more than usual.
When you’re ill, check your blood glucose often. Have someone help you if you can’t do it yourself. You may need to check ketones, too. Record the results in case you need to report them to your health care provider.
Food and fluids
Try to follow your diabetes meal plan. Drink plenty of calorie-free fluids, such as water and diet soft drinks. Fluids help rid your body of extra glucose and prevent dehydration. If you can’t eat or keep down enough solid food, you may need to drink beverages that contain sugar, such as apple juice or a non-diet soft drink.
The best way to cope with illness is to develop a sick-day plan before you get sick. Work with your diabetes care team to find out what type of diabetes medication to take while sick and how much you will need. Ask how often you should check blood glucose and ketones. Check with your provider about over-the-counter sugar-free cold medicines that are safe for you to take. Also list alternative food and beverage options for when you can’t eat normally. Include the phone numbers of your diabetes care team so that you can reach them quickly if needed.
With a plan in place, you’ll have peace of mind the next time illness or injury lays you low.