Diabetes in Adults

How Does Illness Affect Diabetes?

Even “normal” illnesses like colds and flu can cause special problems when you have diabetes.

  • If you can’t eat, or are vomiting, it may be hard to keep blood sugar up.
  • Some illnesses interfere with the way insulin works. If you are taking insulin, youo may need more while you are ill. If you are ill for a long period and the pills are not controlling your diabetes, your doctor may want you to start insulin.

Get an action plan from your diabetes team that tells you exactly what to do when you get sick. For example, you should know:

  • Whether you will need insulin (or extra insulin);
  • When to call the doctor;
  • What soft food and drink you should have on hand in case you can’t eat normally;
  • What extra medicine you may need (for example, to settle your stomach).

Some General Rules For When You Are Ill

  • Call the doctor if your blood sugar is over 300.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drink at least one 8-ounce cup of water every hour (people with diabetes can get sick if they are dehydrated).
  • If your blood sugar is low and you can’t eat, drink juice or regular (not diet) soda to keep your blood sugar up.
  • If you can’t keep anything down, suck on ice chips, then sip clear soda, such as regular ginger ale.
  • Keep taking your medicine.
  • Have someone look in on you or call you every few hours.
  • Call the diabetes team if you have any questions, or if you start to feel worse.

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