Diabetes Sick Day Guidelines

Diabetes Sick Day Guidelines

It’s cold and flu season! What does this mean for people with diabetes?⁣⁣ 😷🦠🤒
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Sick day management is something that we should all be prepared for and well-versed in. Illness or physical stress can sometimes result in insulin resistance and higher blood sugars. Additionally for people on insulin, if we are not eating much (hello, stomach bug!), it can be hard to take enough insulin to avoid DKA even if our blood sugars are in-range.

Even the simple fact that illness usually causes a break from our normal routines can make blood sugars tougher to manage.
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Everyone should work with their own personal doctor to come up with a plan for sick day management. But if you’re looking for more real-life inspo, here are my top tips for staying safe when sick! ⁣⁣⁣⁣

1️⃣ Take Preventative Steps

Get your flu shot (!!!), wash your hands, get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of water, and eat nutritious, whole foods. Prevention is the best medicine! Data doesn’t support the use of vitamin C for cold prevention/mitigation in the general population, but the placebo effect is real and toxicity is low, so it’s up to you! 🤷‍♀️⁣⁣⁣

2️⃣ Choose “Diabetic-Friendly” Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medications

A lot of medications (especially pediatric ones) have added sugar but no nutrition labels. Be extremely wary of this. If you see a “diabetic-friendly” option, go with that one. Also be wary of medications with sugar alcohols! You may be trading one symptom for another. 💩⁣⁣⁣

3️⃣ If You’re Insulin-Dependent, You Still Need Insulin

For people on insulin (both people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes), it is possible to go into DKA at normal blood sugars, especially with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you are insulin-dependent and are vomiting, have diarrhea, or can’t eat much, you still need insulin! Some people micro-dose glucagon so they can take small insulin doses, while others sip sugary beverages. The important thing is making sure that you get enough insulin to suppress ketone production and avoid DKA. ⁣⁣

⁣4️⃣ Know How Different Illnesses Impact Diabetes

Colds, flus, and stomach flus are not the same thing. ⁣⁣Each illness can affect diabetes differently. Be sure you know which one you’re dealing with! If you’re concerned, seek medical help from your doctor. The flu is a serious illness and people with diabetes are at higher risk of complications and even death.⁣⁣ Take it seriously.
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It’s also important to remember that being sick doesn’t mean we automatically need to accept high blood sugars. There is plenty we can do to address those high blood sugars, especially if we have a game plan! ⁣⁣✨👩‍⚕️

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Jordan Hoese, MD, MPH
Jan 07, 2020

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