Diabetes and the Flu
The flu is common but having diabetes makes it much more difficult to fight off. It’s crucial to know what you need to do in this situation. Why is this so important and what do you have to do to prevent it? There are many different ways for you to take to prevent the flu. The flu is bad enough but when you have diabetes, you are three times more likely to be in the hospital for it.
Why is this so? Well, diabetes weakens your immune system and when that happens it makes it that much more difficult for your body to fight off the influenza virus. Another reason this is extremely important is because your blood sugar levels can be affected by the flu and that makes you at a higher risk for pneumonia!
You don’t want pneumonia on top of having the flu and diabetes. But the fact of the matter is that if you are a diabetic, you have a much greater chance of developing pneumonia so it’s even more vital for you to know everything possible to protect yourself from this situation. The best advice without a doubt is to get a flu shot each year at the beginning of the flu season which is usually October. It’s important that your family or whoever you’re living with gets the flu shot as well.
With the flu, it’s even more important to check your blood glucose levels even more frequently than you would normally do. You should also weight yourself each day because losing weight without trying can be an indication of high blood sugar. There are over the counter flu medications that are made for diabetics but some are more suitable than others for people with diabetes. Ask the pharmacist for help.
Managing the Flu and When to Call the Doctor
One medication your doctor may prescribe is Tamiflu which is an antiviral medication that can help to shorten the duration of the flu and also ease the symptoms. It’s best to get this and take it as soon as you get the symptoms so get to your doctor quickly. It’s important to take your diabetes medicine even if you have the flu because most people think that their glucose levels might go too low but because of stress hormones that may not be the case so check with your doctor about this too.
When you are ill, it’s vital that you try and eat regularly and drink to stay hydrated. You may have an upset stomach and may not feel up to eating and drinking normally. But you have to because it can only make matters worse if you don’t. You can give soft foods a try and drinks that will have carbohydrate content the same as you’ve been used to.
Medications that you need to take when you’re sick or when you have the flu can affect your blood glucose and that’s why calling your doctor is important here. This can include certain antibiotics and decongestants that can raise your blood sugar. Aspirin can lower your blood glucose too. I take a baby aspirin everyday so I’m very careful about it.
Most likely your doctor won’t change your diabetes medications or at least not make too much of a change. You still have to keep your glucose in the normal range and with the flu it will be the doctor’s decision about what is best for you.
How to Avoid Germs and Prevent the Flu
* GET A FLU SHOT- I think I said this before. Oh yes, I did! But it’s number one on the list for a reason. It’s THAT important if you want to try and avoid the flu. There’s no 100% guarantee but even if you do get it, the severity of it will be a lot less and a lot shorter period of time. You will have 50-70% less of a chance to require treatment further on down the road.
I am going to be adamant about getting the flu shot. I’ve seen stubborn people who just refuse to get the shot and then when they get the flu? You guessed it! M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E. Come on guys, it’s FREE! I’m telling you from experience (especially with type 2 diabetes) that the benefits far outweigh the little “prick” you get from the needle. Okay, the ball’s in your court. Make your choice!
People who should be getting a flu shot: (According to the CDC)
- Children from 6 months-19 years old
- Folks in nursing homes and any long term care facilities
- Health care workers who care for others at high risk for the flu
- People who have chronic medical conditions at any age
- Anyone over the age of 50
Now, this isn’t recommended by the Center for Diseases and Control, but I feel that every person regardless should get a flu shot. It’s just my personal opinion.
* Getting sick, work or no work?- Sorry, I don’t get this one AT all! You have the flu. You are feeling like you got run over by a freight train. Why on earth would you go to work feeling this way and on top of that showing up to infect all your co-workers? This makes NO sense at all to me.
* Avoid sick people- If you don’t want to get sick, then stay far away from those who are. First of all, it’s common sense. It doesn’t take much of catching it from someone sneezing or coughing and if get to within a few feet from them, you could be looking at misery in the near future.
* Smoking- I talk a lot about how smoking is not good for you which is why I never smoked in the first place. But it can sure inhibit your breathing and respiratory system. It also lowers your immune system and you need that strong to combat disease.
* Washing your hands- This one is right my alley! I must wash my hands about a thousand times a day and I know that I go overboard but the reasons for it are worth it. I know it’s not possible to always be able to wash your hands but I’ve gotten very accustomed to using hand sanitizer. There are germs everywhere! They are on keyboards, doorknobs, gym equipment, elevator buttons, and especially shopping carts!
* Breathing out- I do this all the time. When I am walking and I pass another person who is sneezing and coughing I run at 100 mph in the other direction. Okay, not really but I exhale first and try and stay about 10-12 feet away to avoid breathing in the contaminated air. Oh, I do eventually inhale again 🙂
* Personal pen- I always have a pen with me wherever I go. I don’t use or try and avoid using pens in banks, post offices, doctors offices, pharmacies, and practically anywhere that I would need a pen. I’ll even use it touch touch any keypad such as at an ATM. It saves me from a LOT of germs.
* Dirty talk- No, not that kind of dirty talk. I am VERY conscious of where my cell phone is and where I put it. Counter surfaces are off limits if possible. Sanitizer wipes are great when you’re out to keep your phone clean because let me tell you that they are the dirtiest things we handle. I have a machine called Phone Soap that cleans the phone in 5 minutes by killing the germs with ultraviolet light.
* Kissing- The flu virus is obviously contagious and is present 24 hours before you show signs of the first symptoms and up to 7 days after your last symptom starts to disappear. It is contained and passed on through saliva so I wouldn’t be kissing anyone if I were you.
* Yogurt- The flu and cold viruses have an arch enemy and that is Greek yogurt. In a study done people who took part in the study and ate Greek yogurt with its specific strain of probiotics lessened their risk of contracting the viruses by more than 25%. One serving of Greek yogurt daily is what you need.
* Exercise- If you want to reduce your risk of getting a cold or flu virus, then perform some moderate exercise. When you work out it turns on your immune system and this sends natural cells out to killer the rhinovirus. Even if you are already sick, you still want to keep exercising because it can help to relieve your nasal passages by the stimulation of epinephrine.
* Green tea- Instead of coffee why not make a switch and try green tea. It contains ingredients that kill influenza virus and prevent them before they get the chance to get into your system. It’s also believed that they can have the same effect with bacteria that cause pneumonia.
* Delete stress- We all know that stress kills. Reports show that people who have psychological stress are much less likely to produce antibodies in response to the flu vaccine.
* Sleeping arrangements- With the flu, the sleeping arrangements should be altered. Any particular bed item can host the flu virus for about 24 hours. It’s best to have your own pillows, blankets, and better yet separate beds temporarily. Let’s face it, you need your rest and sleep and so does your partner, hopefully without the other picking up the flu bug.
* Your face- This is MOST important! Keep your hands OFF your face. Don’t touch any part of your mouth or nose because that’s when you actually pick up the virus. You can touch a surface that’s been contaminated and you won’t pick up the virus as long as you keep your hands off your face and at least sanitize before you can get to wash your hands. I cannot stress this one enough!
* Healthy foods- You want to stay with the healthy foods because you need the nutrients and antioxidants to boost your health and strengthen your immune system. Protein is the fuel that runs your immune system engine and you need between 12 and 15%.
Nobody wants to be sick and nobody wants the flu. But now you know how serious it is to have diabetes and the flu. It doesn’t have to be serious or even happen if you take the necessary precautions. There are many things that you can do to avoid the flu and other illnesses. I hope that you learned something.
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My hope is that I helped you learn something and that you take something positive with you from this article. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below and pass this on to others who may need help. I would appreciate it! Thank you for reading and have a happy and a healthy one!