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Taking Care of Diabetes During a Sickness

Diabetes is part of your life. It's very important to take care of it when you're sick. Here are some tips to help you take care of your diabetes when you have a cold, the flu, an infection, or other illnesses. Being sick can raise your blood glucose. When you're sick, do the following:

  • Check your blood glucose every 4 hours. Write down the results.

  • Keep taking your insulin and your diabetes pills. Even if you can't keep food down, you still need your diabetes medicine. Ask your doctor or diabetes educator whether to change the amount of insulin or pills you take.

  • Drink at least a cup (8 ounces) of water or other calorie-free, caffeine-free liquid every hour while you're awake.

  • If you can't eat your usual food, try drinking juice or eating crackers, popsicles, or soup.

  • If you can't eat at all, drink clear liquids such as ginger ale. Eat or drink something with sugar in it if you have trouble keeping food down.

  • Test your urine for ketones if
    1. your blood glucose is over 240
    2. you can't keep food or liquids down

  • Call your health care provider right away if
    1. your blood glucose has been over 240 for longer than a day
    2. you have moderate to large amounts of ketones in your urine
    3. you feel sleepier than usual
    4. you have trouble breathing
    5. you can't think clearly
    6. you throw up more than once
    7. you've had diarrhea for more than 6 hours

  • If you use insulin: Take your insulin, even if you've been throwing up. Ask your doctor about how to adjust your insulin dose, based on your blood glucose test results.

  • If you DON'T use insulin: Take your diabetes pills, even if you've been throwing up.

Source: NIDDK

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