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Cold and flu season is here, and for those of us with diabetes, it can be a very tough time. For most people getting sick is an uncomfortable inconvenience where they have to decide whether to use PTO or not. People with diabetes have more to think about because they just don’t heal as fast and getting sick comes with more uncertainty.
Why Cold and Flu Season is Dangerous for Diabetics
When someone is sick, their body sends out a bunch of hormones to help in fighting the infection. Unfortunately, those same hormones can block the insulin in their bodies. As blood sugar rises, complications can occur. You certainly don’t need to be diabetic to have complications from the cold or flu. Young, healthy people die every year from the influenza virus. Most of the deaths each year, however, happen to people with underlying chronic conditions such as diabetes. The common cold and the flu are both viral infections, but the flu is by far the worst of the two. Here are a few flu-related complications that can land a diabetic person in the hospital;
• Bacterial infection
• Diabetic coma
How to Avoid Getting Sick
Whether you have diabetes or not, you should make an effort to avoid getting sick. The best way to avoid getting the flu is by getting your annual flu shot. I know there are “anti-vaxxers” out there that are rolling their eyes, because they think the flu vaccine is part of a vast conspiracy by the government to control the world. For the rest of us, though, the flu shot is a tool that may save our lives. You may want to consider also getting the pneumonia vaccine while you are at it. You should be able to get both shots from your doctor, further reducing your risk of complications. You can’t vaccinate against the common cold, but you and your family should be washing your hands often and sanitizing anything in the house that is used often like doorknobs, faucets, and the TV remote.
What to do When You Get Sick
Ok, so you did everything you are supposed to do (or none of it) to prevent getting sick this season, and now you are sick. You just googled, I’m a diabetic, and I have the flu, which brought you here to activediabetics.com. The first thing you should do is call in sick if you have a job, then call your doctor. If you suspect, you might have the flu you need to be seen as soon as possible so they can test you. If the test comes back positive for influenza, they can prescribe you antivirals which should lessen your symptoms and the time in which you are sick. Here are few other things you should be doing when you are sick;
• Drink plenty of fluids
• Check your blood sugar every 3-4 hours
• Try to eat and medicate as normal
• Get tons of sleep
• Camp out on the couch in the living for at least a week and hog the TV. It is as good a time as any to binge watch True Detective on Amazon or The Fall on Netflix.
• Update your status on Facebook. Having the flu can score you extra “likes” and “shares”!
Be Prepared for it
Preventing illness is your best bet, but not a guarantee that you won’t be sicker than a dog this year. It is a good idea that you have a sick day survival pack and a plan in place. Preparing for a cold or flu will make things more manageable. No one wants to go to the drugstore when they are unwell, so here are a few things to have on hand.
• Canned soups
• Clean water
• Sugar-free throat lozenges
• Sugar-free cold and flu syrup
• Tissue, lots of tissue
• Lip balm
• Heating pad
• Enough test strips, medicine, and insulin
It is also important that you have a plan in place, so that if you are sick, there is someone that can check on you. If you live alone, make sure someone knows you are not well. This person could be a friend, a neighbor, or the creepy guy from the gym who watches you while you are on the elliptical. Someone should be checking on you every day with at the very least a text. You should also be prepared if heavy snow is a possibility. If you need to get to the hospital or have a fever who will drive you?