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Managing Diabetes During Cold and Flu Season

As cold and flu season rapidly approaches, it is extremely important for people with diabetes to take proper care of themselves. Not only does being sick increase blood glucose levels, but it also typically prohibits people from diabetes from maintaining proper nutrition and eating habits. Additionally, diabetes can make the immune system more susceptible to severe cases of the cold or flu.

In anticipation of a severe cold and flu outbreak this season, Marc Wolf, registered pharmacist and CEO of Diabetic Care Services, provides the following tips for people with diabetes to properly care for themselves throughout the cold and flu season.

  • Wash your hands frequently. Carry and use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not readily available.
  • Continue to take your diabetes medications - pills or insulin - even if you are unable to eat. Contact your physician or pharmacist and see if he or she recommends taking additional insulin.
  • Test your blood glucose every three to four hours. When you have the cold or flu you feel lousy regardless of blood sugar levels. This makes it difficult for people with diabetes to identify blood sugar highs and lows. If your blood glucose is lower than 60 mg/dL or remains more than 300 mg/dL, call your doctor or go to the hospital.
  • It is safe to take over-the-counter medications for cold and flu symptoms; however, many liquid cold and flu medications and cough drops are high in sugar, which can affect proper diabetes management. Be sure to select a medication that is low in sugar like Diabetic Tussin.
  • Weigh yourself daily while you have the cold or flu. Losing weight without actively trying can be a sign of high blood glucose.
  • Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated when you are suffering from a cold or the flu, but stay away from drinks with caffeine or those high in sugar.
  • Try to eat as much as you usually do. If you are having a hard time eating or keeping down solids, eat soft foods like toast, yogurt or soup and drink liquids to consume the same number of carbohydrates you typically do when you are well. If it is difficult to manage soft foods and you need glucose in your diet, try a product like Glucose RapidSpray, which quickly and conveniently provides glucose in a spray (no chewing or swallowing required).
  • Check your ketones. If they get too high, call your doctor as quickly as possible to help prevent serious complications.
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