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Sick Days

What You Should Know About Sick Care

Middle aged couple holding one another.When you are sick, it can be harder to manage your blood sugar. You may not feel like eating the same foods. You may be less active. When you are sick your body responds in a variety of ways that can cause your blood sugar to rise. If you are vomiting or have diarrhea it is even harder to manage your blood sugar.

Some medicines that you might take for colds or coughs or pain can cause problems with your diabetes medicines. Some can cause your blood sugar to go up. Be sure to discuss all medicines...even those you can get without a prescription...with your health care provider or pharmacist.

Preventing Illness

Preventing illness is important. Two illnesses you prevent are flu and pneumonia. If you have diabetes, pneumonia or the flu can be more serious. It can mean that you are sick longer or you might have to go to the hospital. You can prevent flu and pneumonia by getting a shot.


The flu shot is safe. It cannot give you the flu. Your family should also get the flu shot. That way you won't catch it from them. You need to get a new flu shot each year.

It is covered by Medicare, Part B. Most insurance companies pay for the vaccine for people with diabetes.


The pneumonia shot is safe. It cannot give you pneumonia. About half of people who get the vaccine have very mild side effects, such as redness or pain where the shot is given.

Most people need to get the shot only one time. Some people who get the shot when they are under age 65 will need to get a second shot five to ten years later. The pneumonia shot can be given any time during the year.

What To Do

  • Take your diabetes medicines.
  • Eat.
  • Drink plenty of sugar-free fluid (no caffeine) every hour. Bouillon or canned clear soups can also be good.
  • Check your blood sugar more often.
  • Take your temperature.
  • If you have type 1 diabetes, check the ketones in your urine.
  • Be in touch with your health care provider. They can help you manage your blood sugar during this time.

Prevent illness by getting your flu and pneumonia shots.


  • You can't eat or keep food down (if you vomit more than once).
  • You have diarrhea more than 5 times or for more than 6 hours.
  • Your blood sugar is very low or very high.
  • You have moderate or large amounts of ketones in your urine.
  • You are having trouble breathing.
  • You are confused.
  • You feel sleepier than usual


Plan ahead...things to do before you get sick:

  • Talk to your dietitian about foods that are good to eat if you are sick and don't feel like eating.
  • Talk to your health care provider to figure out the best kind of medicine to take for:
    • Headaches
    • Stuffy nose
    • If you are sick to your stomach
    • Coughs
  • Talk to your health care provider to find out:
    • When you should call them if you are sick.
    • When you should get help right away. They may suggest times other than those already listed.
  • Write all these things down.
  • Keep what you need on hand.



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Exercise - Staying Healthy: Things To Do - Measuring Your Blood Sugar - High & Low Blood Sugar Diabetes Pills - Insulin - Sick Days - Foot Care - Resources - Home Page

This guide is not a substitute for the judgment of trained professionals.
If you are a person with diabetes you should seek care from a qualified practitioner.