Why diabetics need flu shots

People with diabetes need flu shots

Flu shots are one step you can take to stay healthy.

Photo source: Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America.
Photo by: Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America.

It is important to follow your doctor’s advice to prevent the flu, especially if you have diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 30 percent of adults who are hospitalized with the flu have diabetes. Being sick can also prevent you from eating properly, which may cause changes in your blood sugar. The CDC recommends the following to protect yourself during the flu season.

  • Get a flu shot and encourage others around you to get theirs. People are infectious before flu symptoms appear and can infect others. Find a flu shot near you by typing in your zip code.
  • Take the flu medicine prescribed by your doctor.
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick and follow these rules:
    • Continue to take your diabetes medicine, even if you can’t eat. Talk to your doctor about any concerns, or before stopping your medicine.
    • Test your blood sugar every four hours and write down the results.
    • Drink lots of zero calorie liquid (water is best).
    • Try to keep eating. If you can’t, try eating soft foods and liquids that contain the same amounts of carbohydrates you usually eat when you are healthy.
    • Weigh yourself each day. Weight loss without dieting is a sign of high blood sugar.
    • Take your temperature.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer.
  • Resist touching your eyes, nose and mouth. These areas are ways for germs to enter your body.
  • Clean surfaces at home and work when someone is ill.
  • Keep a week’s worth of medicine on-hand in case you are not able to leave your home.

Even if you get the flu shot, you can still get sick. Call your doctor if any of these things happen to you:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Blood sugar less than 60 milligrams/dL or is over 250 milligrams/dL on two checks
  • Ketone level of urine higher than normal
  • Fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours
  • Drowsiness or trouble thinking clearly
  • Trouble keeping liquids down for more than 4 hours
  • Trouble keeping down food for more than 24 hours
  • Severe diarrhea or vomiting for more than 6 hours
  • Loss of five pounds or more

If you take steps to prevent the flu, you have a better chance of not getting sick. Don’t forget to get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and exercise. Michigan State University Extension says that these healthy behaviors can give your body the extra boost it needs to make it through the flu season without getting sick.

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