Fight the Flu! How to get through your flu with diabetes

Flu season 🤧

It’s officially winter! Which means we are right smack dab in the middle of flu season. The flu is bad for anyone. But it’s especially serious for people with diabetes. And this year, the CDC is reporting a “moderately severe” infection rate.

What’s the big deal? 

If we don’t take care of ourselves while sick, we could easily end up at the hospital in serious DKA-mode. Diabetes weakens the immune system, making it less able to fight infections; additionally, illness causes more blood sugar fluctuations. Together, we get a dangerous duo that can result in health risks that could potentially lead to high mortality rates. Instead, protect yourself with our easy-to-follow tips below.

1. Check yourself.

Before you wreck yourself. Seriously. Stay on top of blood sugars. Check your BGs more than you usually do. The flu can cause major fluctuations in blood glucose. Now’s the time to really take advantage of that One Drop | Premium subscription – take your blood sugar every hour, at least! It’ll greatly limit potential hypos/hypers.

2. Drink Up.

Cheers! To all the water and Pedialyte 🙌  Now is the time for the ultimate chugging contest. Well, maybe not actually. But in reality, your body is losing liquids when it’s fighting the flu. If you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea, you’re at much greater risk for dehydration. If you are having difficulty keeping liquids down, no worries – sip on clear liquids (water, tea, Pedialyte, broth) at regular intervals (seriously, no need to chug).

  • PRO-TIP: Make sure you’re checking BGs before sipping. If your blood sugar is running high, sip liquids like water or sugar-free ginger ale. If it’s running low, sip on orange juice or regular ginger ale.

3. Diabetes meds are our friends.

Myth: when you get sick, you should stop taking your daily medications.
Fact: stress hormones kick into high gear when you’re sick, meaning you might actually need more meds than usual. Start out by staying true to your medication regimen. As you keep checking your blood sugars, tweak your diabetes meds (insulin, metformin) as needed according to your doctor’s suggestions. This could mean taking less, or increasing your usual dose. It all depends on your specific situation.

4. So are flu meds.

Just because we have diabetes doesn’t mean we should shy away from taking over-the-counter flu/cold treatments. While there are many sugar-filled syrups out there that have potential to raise blood sugar, there are pill-form alternatives, as well as sugar-free alternatives. As always, keep a vigilant eye on blood sugars after taking these new medications, as they can alter blood sugar. But more often than not, they will get you back on track faster.

5. Catch your Zzz’s. Lots of them.

Sleep in! In fact, sleep as much as you want. The more sleep and rest you give yourself, the better and faster your body can rejuvenate and fight off the flu.

6. Have a survival kit at-the-ready. 💼

This might be something you’d be better off doing in advance of your flu-catching. Either way, a survival kit is super handy when you’re in need of at-home remedies. Be sure to pack:

  • Thermometer
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
  • Cold compresses
  • Tissues
  • Throat lozenges
  • Orange juice
  • Teas
  • Neti Pot
  • Vapor Rub
  • Glucose tablets

If you don’t have your survival kit pre-packed, feel free to ask a family member, friend or neighbor to help you get one set up. They won’t mind 😉

As always, reach out to your doctor when needed and keep your One Drop | Expert updated.Alert your HCP if your blood sugars consistently run at 250mg/dL or higher, and if you’re experiencing extreme symptoms like trouble breathing or running large ketones.

💡 The CDC recommends that people at high risk for complications (that’s us!) should get antiviral treatment as early as possible (the benefit is greatest when treatment is started within 2 days after illness onset).

Not to mention, you still have time to get a flu shot. 💉 Even though we’re midway through, we still have about 4 months left in the season. Protect yourself: getting the flu shot can mean lessening the severity of the flu if you do actually get it.

Otherwise, put on your cozy suit, find a binge-worthy show & bundle up in bed. You’ve got this!

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Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is a Marketing and Communications Manager at One Drop and has been living with T1D for over 20 years.