The current flu season is one of the worst we've ever seen. While the need for early immunization is emphasized, flu can be a significant hazard to someone who already has comorbidity, such as diabetes.

People with diabetes have irregular blood sugar flare-ups, promoting inflammation and decreasing immune defenses. It means that if your blood glucose levels are out of control, you are not only at a higher risk of infection, but recovery can be difficult as well, just as it is with COVID-19. In addition, keeping your blood sugar levels in check might be difficult when you have an illness like this.

Therefore, while it's critical to catch infections early and get proper care, it's also vital to understand how to control the disease and reduce the risk of severity and consequences. If you have diabetes, here are some tips to help you manage a cold or flu with diabetes.

How Catching a Cold or Flu with Diabetes Can Be Severe?

Since diabetes is a chronic disease that compromises immune system function and makes it easier for pathogens to enter, there is an increased risk.

When you're diabetic and infected with the flu, your body increases your blood sugar level. Apart from that, the influenza virus can generate cortisol, limiting the efficacy of insulin and causing glucose levels to fluctuate. These conditions can also cause blood glucose levels to become unstable, increasing the risk of problems. People with diabetes, although having a greater flu risk, are also 30 percent more likely than non-diabetics to be hospitalized because of the flu.


What Should a Diabetic Do If They Catch a Cold or Flu?

When you have diabetes, viral fever, or flu-like illness might be frightening, but it requires careful attention and control. Remember that because diabetes is a chronic illness, you must be highly attentive in your self-care routines and take extra precautions to control flu symptoms and blood sugar levels.

Infection with influenza, in particular, can cause stress in the body, make eating difficult, cause exhaustion, and contribute to dehydration, all of which can cause glucose levels to fluctuate.

If you have diabetes and get sick with the flu, one of the most crucial things is to monitor your blood sugar levels every four hours and maintain healthy eating habits. It's also important to drink enough fluids (ideally ones that don't boost glucose levels) because high sugar might induce frequent urination and dehydration. Notably, it's not a good idea to skip or double up on pharmaceutical dosages.

It's also worth remembering that because the body has a stricter difficulty battling viruses and infections when you have diabetes, the symptoms might take longer to go away. As a result, the disease might last for a long time, leaving your body exhausted and feeble.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. Are there symptoms that demand extreme attention?

Keep in mind that, while the flu can be just as dangerous as the COVID-19, it's critical to keep track of symptoms and get medical attention if any potentially dangerous indicators appear. In addition, when you have the flu, keep an eye out for indicators of deterioration or poor health.

Q. Are there medications that I would need to avoid?

It is claimed that some over-the-counter medications, such as decongestants, cough syrups, or drops, can temporarily affect blood sugar levels. Therefore, one should only take medications (including regular blood glucose stabilizing drugs) after consulting with a doctor. 

In addition, insulin or diabetes medicines may need to be modified for persons with a significantly varying diabetes level or other preconditions. Inform your doctor to determine what is best for you and discover any additional risk factors that need to be addressed.

Q. How can I keep myself protected?

Maintaining proper respiratory hygiene, avoiding crowds, and protecting your health more than before are all strategies to reduce your chance of catching flu or any illness. Also, people with Diabetes (Type-1 and Type-2) should obtain updated flu vaccination doses every six months to provide adequate immunological protection. 

Getting vaccinations on time is safe and effective, and it can significantly lower the risk of hospitalization and severe cases.

Q. When should I check my blood sugar levels if I have diabetes and catch a cold or the flu?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States offers "Sick Day Guidelines" for diabetics. While you're sick with a cold or flu, these guidelines advocate checking your blood sugar every 2 to 4 hours and keeping note of the findings. You should also note your urine ketone levels every time you drain (pee). 

Follow your doctor's instructions for more insulin as long as ketones are discovered. If you vomit, go to the local Urgent Care or Emergency Department as soon as possible.

Q. What can I drink or eat to control my blood sugar levels when sick?

While you're unwell, you should try to stick to your eating plan as much as possible. If you're unable to stick to your typical food plan (which may include a type 1 or type 2 diabetes diet plan), be sure to stay hydrated. Dehydration can be caused by high blood sugars, fever, or a lack of appetite, but the body needs enough fluid to remove excess glucose. When your blood sugar is over 150 mg/dL, and you aren't eating, you can drink water or other non-caffeinated drinks.

Q. When should I visit a doctor if I have diabetes and develop a cold or the flu?

Suppose you experience signs and symptoms such as being unable to eat for more than 6 hours, vomiting, severe diarrhea, losing more than 5 pounds (2.6 kg), fever greater than 101 F (37.7 C), blood glucose level greater than 250 mg/dL. In that case, you should call your doctor or go to the nearest Emergency Room or local Urgent Care Centers, according to the CDC's "Sick Day Guidelines for People with Diabetes."

You must also visit a doctor if ketone levels range from moderate to high in the urine or blood, trouble breathing, feelings of confusion or inability to think correctly, as well as sleepiness.

Q. How can I Prevent Infections?

The best method for persons with diabetes to avoid the flu and its consequences is to get an annual seasonal flu vaccination. In addition, avoiding direct contact with sick people and washing your hands often, especially before eating or touching your face, are other ways to prevent infections, a cold, or the flu.

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