Diabetics certainly face greater health problems when they are also down with flu since it can bring a lot of problems to their management of diabetes.
Therefore, it is necessary to prevent flu from occurring.
However, it is not easy to prevent flu if you are a diabetic as the condition makes it more difficult to shield oneself from the flu virus.
Viral infections, such as the flu, causes greater stress to the body and this can result in the raising of blood glucose levels and greater risk of diabetes complications, especially short-period complications like Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State (HHS) and ketoacidosis.
Diabetics and their flu symptoms
Flu symptoms, such as the following, can happen quickly:
- Serious painful, aching joints
- Painful muscles
- Pain in the area surrounding the eyes
- Skin which is warm and flushed
- Dry cough
- Nasal discharge and a sore throat.
Diabetics and their flu medication
Although there are non-prescription flu medications which are suitable for diabetics with flu, it is necessary for diabetics to read the labels on such medications so that they can restrict themselves to those with hardly any sugar content.
In the UK, many over-the-counter flu and cold liquid medications contain sugar; some, like cough drops, contain a lot of sugar.
Such flu medications, due to their high content of sugar, can be harmful to diabetes management.
We ought to understand that flu medications can only treat flu symptoms so that the body gets a better chance for recovery without giving problems to diabetics.
People with diabetes are more susceptible to the flu – Video Guide
How does flu affect blood sugar?
As a diabetic, if you suffer from flu, you have to test your blood sugar levels more frequently than usual. This has to be done since the sickness can cause you to be unaware of whatever change which can happen to your blood glucose.
Should you be unaware of your blood sugar level descending too low, you may get hyperglycaemia, which can be very dangerous.
How frequent you should check your blood sugar is determined by your own experience and specific situation. However, there are experts who suggest checking at intervals of three, perhaps four, hours; and informing the doctor of whatever changes noticed.
Diabetes, flu and ketones
If you are using insulin, the ADA suggests that your ketones be checked if the level of your blood sugar goes higher than 15 mmol/l. because too high a level of ketones can lead to a coma which, unless treated, can end in coma.
Regular checking of ketones is necessary and your diabetes care team are the right people to give you more information on ketones checking.
What diet do I follow when I suffer from diabetes and flu?
Most diabetics lose their appetite and do not feel thirty when they suffer from the flu. Although this may be the case, it is necessary to eat as far as possible, the same regular healthy diabetic meals as it will assist you in managing your blood glucose.
If there is difficulty in eating, then you should take liquids with added carbohydrates which can give your body enough energy. Continue to watch out for your blood sugar levels and, consult your diabetes care team whenever you need help to manage your blood sugar levels.