Managing Diabetes on Sick Days
MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: This video will help you learn how to plan ahead so you will be prepared to handle sick days with confidence. Please watch the entire video before creating a sick day plan. Getting sick can raise or lower blood sugar levels, making it more difficult to control diabetes and stay within your blood sugar target range. You will need to take special care of yourself when you are sick. On days that you feel sick, be sure to check your blood sugar more often, at least every three to four hours. Keep taking your diabetes pills and injectable medications, even if you cannot eat. Follow your normal meal plan as close as possible. Try to eat the same amount of carbohydrates that you normally do. Drink plenty of fluids to keep your body from getting dry or dehydrated. And record your blood sugar levels and symptoms, the medications you take, and the food and drinks you consume. Be sure to have this information available when you talk to your health care provider. When you get sick, your body sees the illness as stress. To relieve the stress it releases energy, which makes your blood sugar rise. Even a minor illness can lead to dangerously high blood sugar levels and require emergency medical care. Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting can make it harder to follow your usual meal plan. Poor intake of food can cause your blood sugar levels to fall too low. Plan ahead before you get sick. Work with your health care team to help you develop an action plan for sick days. Your plan should include checking your blood sugar more often. Since your blood sugar can change quickly when you are sick, you will need to check it more often than usual, at least every three to four hours. Make sure you know your blood sugar target range and learn what to do if your blood sugar is too high or too low. When sick, you will still need to continue taking your diabetes pills and injectable medications. Even when you do not feel well, never stop taking your medication unless your health care provider says you should. If your blood sugar gets too high or falls too low, you may have to increase or change how much diabetes medication you take. Make sure to follow your health care provider's instructions about if or when you should adjust your medication plan. You may want to take extra medications when you feel sick. Many over-the-counter medications can affect your blood sugar levels. Always check with your health care provider or pharmacist before buying over-the-counter medications to make sure they are safe to use when you have diabetes. If you take other prescription medications, continue taking them as directed. Do not change or stop taking these medications without first talking with your health care provider. You may not feel like eating and drinking when you are sick, but it is important to stick to your normal meal plan if you can. Make sure to drink one to two cups of water and sugar free liquids every hour to keep your body from getting dry or dehydrated. Drinking lots of liquids helps to remove the extra sugar in your blood and replace fluids lost due to vomiting, fever, or diarrhea. If you have trouble eating solid food, try taking in your normal number of calories by eating easy on the stomach foods, such as crackers, soup, yogurt, and applesauce. Keep a small stock of these foods on hand to prepare for sick days. If you find these mild foods too hard to eat, drink fluids that contain carbohydrates every three to four hours, such as juice, frozen juice bars, and regular, not diet, soda. Try to drink enough fluids that contain the same amount of carbohydrates that you would normally eat. Keep a written sick day record when you're sick. Write down your blood sugar levels and symptoms, the amount of medications you take and when you take them, and the food and drinks you consume. Be sure to have this information with you when you talk to your health care provider. Ask for help when you need it. It can be difficult to manage diabetes on your own when you are sick. Let family and friends know when you are sick and ask them to check in on you. They can provide you with support and help to keep you safe. Call your doctor right away if you cannot keep any fluids down for more than four hours, have been throwing up or having diarrhea that lasts more than six hours, have a blood sugar level that stays over 300 or under 70, have not eaten normally for more than 24 hours, have trouble breathing, or you cannot stay awake or think clearly.