As well as making you feel miserable, being sick can make it more difficult to manage your diabetes. Why? Because illness or infection is a stress on the body. To deal with this stress, your body releases hormones that help it to fight the illness or infection. Unfortunately these hormones tend to raise blood glucose levels and make it harder for your insulin to work. Combined with changes in your eating and activity levels when you are under the weather, it can be harder to keep your blood glucose levels in your target range.
In most cases, illness will cause a mild or moderate increase in your blood glucose levels for a few days. Your levels will then return to normal once you start feeling better. In some cases, particularly with severe infections, your blood glucose levels can become very high and you may need a change or increase in medication.
Get ready for the days when you’re feeling under the weather with these two simple steps:
Be prepared. Ask your diabetes educator or doctor to help you develop a sick-day plan. Include details of how often you need to monitor your blood glucose levels, how to adjust your medication, when to contact your doctor or diabetes team, and all your emergency contact numbers.
Put together a sick-day kit. This should include a copy of your plan along with monitoring equipment, quick-acting carbohydrate to treat hypos (if you are at risk) and fluids (both sweetened and sugar-free). If you take insulin, your GP may recommend you keep some rapid-acting insulin so you can take extra doses if needed. Consider also adding pain relief and a thermometer.