How to Deal With Diabetes When You’re Sick

January 23, 2017

If you have diabetes, you have to be even more vigilant when you’re sick. The condition can make your health even more delicate if you get dehydrated or don’t/can’t eat. It’s best to have someone monitor your condition when you’re ill, but if you don’t have someone living with you, be sure to create a response plan  –  and then ask a friend to check in on you.


Here’s what you need to do:

  • Manage hydration. If you have diarrhea, are vomiting or have a high fever, you can very quickly become dehydrated. Once that happens, your risk for high blood sugar (or hyperglycemia) increases significantly. In addition, if you’re taking medication for a cold, eating less food or less frequently, or skipping some of your meds, your blood sugar can also spike.

Set a timer and check your blood sugar more often so you can monitor your levels. Be sure to take your diabetes medication as directed and drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration. Call your doctor if your blood sugar is high, or over 250.

  • Prioritize nutrition. If you have the flu, for example, and you just don’t feel like eating much, be sure that the things you do consume pack a punch. Instead of trying to eat regular food, opt for a meal replacement shake or drink. Purchase a shake specifically made for people with diabetes, or make your own using dairy or non-dairy milk, some protein (like peanut butter or yogurt) and frozen fruit.
  • Be prepared. You should have things on hand in your kitchen to help you deal with being sick to promote optimal nutrition and hydration. Here’s what you should have on hand: Juice or pop, broth soups, jello (not the sugar-free kind), and a beverage high in electrolytes. Be sure to keep extra blood-sugar monitoring supplies on hand, as well as a  good thermometer to keep track of your temperature.
  • Monitor. Stay on top of your blood sugar levels by monitoring your condition. You should check your blood sugar at regular intervals, four times each day if you’re taking long-acting insulin or insulin when you eat (at mealtime). A good rule of thumb to follow is to check it before a meal, and then before you go to bed.
  • Check-in with your doctor. Your physician may alter your diabetes meds when you’re ill and not eating much. The decision depends on the type of medication you’re on and how little food you’re eating. If you take the medication before meals, it’s possible that your doctor may reduce the dose; however, if you’re taking long-acting insulin, your physician may not make any changes.

Make sure you monitor your diabetes carefully when you don’t feel well. Suffering from the flu or a cold can make it difficult to self-manage the disease. If you can get help, have a friend or family member assist you with monitoring your food and liquid intake and checking your blood sugar, and look for signs that you need to call the doctor for help.

For information about a health insurance plan that will cover your diabetes needs, contact InsureOne Benefits today.