The sniffling and sneezing that comes with cold and flu season can be annoying for anyone, but having diabetes on top of that has ripple effects. Those with diabetes are at higher risk of serious flu complications. To make things worse, the sickness that comes with these viral infections prevents you from eating regularly, which can compromise your blood sugar control.
Here are a few ways to keep an illness from ruining your holiday fun.
1. Get your flu shot.
When it comes to the flu, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting your flu shot by the end of October. But missing this deadline doesn’t mean that you can’t get the shot later; get it as soon as you remember anytime throughout cold and flu season.
The flu viral strains change every year. That’s why the seasonal flu shot is updated to better match and guard against the viruses that are most likely to infect during the upcoming season.
2. Get your pneumonia shot.
One of the most dreaded complications of the flu virus is a lung infection called pneumococcal pneumonia. The good news is that this bacterial infection is preventable by means of a unique vaccine. The CDC recommends pneumococcal vaccination to be a part of your diabetes management plan.
3. Wash your hands.
The flu virus is highly contagious. Most of the spread occurs between people via the air after sneezing or coughing. You can also pick up the flu germs when you touch an infected person’s secretions (such as while shaking hands) and then touch your own eyes, mouth or nose.
Frequently washing your hands with soap and water can significantly reduce your odds of contracting the virus. If soap and water aren’t readily available, rubbing in a hand sanitizer may also protect you.
Also, try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth to prevent the spread of germs through fingers. Finally, if you do get sick, cover up your nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing to prevent the transfer of germs to others.
4. Check your blood sugars.
If you do get sick, your blood sugars may not be as well-controlled. While your body is fighting an infection, it sends out stress hormones like adrenaline, which work against insulin, leading to increased blood sugar levels. The symptoms of the infection can also mask the symptoms of high or low blood sugar levels, further complicating the picture. So to avoid any undue complications, be sure to monitor your blood sugar more often than you usually do.
5. Stay hydrated and eat well.
When you’re sick, it isn’t very unusual to feel like not eating or drinking much, which in turn, drops your blood sugars as well as slows down your recovery. To prevent your condition from getting worse, sip plenty of fluids like soup or low sodium broth, and snack on healthy goodies.
6. Know what’s in your cold medicine.
Several over-the-counter cold and flu meds are high in glucose, so be sure to check the sugar content of the medicine you’re planning to take. Look for options labeled “sugar-free.” The store pharmacist should be able to help you pick the right medication.
If you’re too sick to keep your food down, your blood sugars may drop too low as a result of the diabetes meds that you’re already taking. So, reach out to your Care Team or Doctor if symptoms get worse.