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The flu and diabetes

If you have diabetes, whether it's type 1 or type 2, you are at increased risk of flu complications and severe infection. This means that if you get the flu, you may be more likely to be hospitalized, and if the infection is severe, at a higher risk of death.

Many people with diabetes have other medical conditions including COPD, high blood pressure and kidney disease. As a result, you may also be at a higher risk of developing bronchitis, pneumonia, sinus and ear infections, and further worsening of heart disease.

The flu can have several effects on your body if you have diabetes:

  • Severe flu infection can result because diabetes can cause your immune system to be weaker.
  • Your blood sugar levels may fluctuate. Sometimes when you are sick, you may not feel like eating, which can cause your blood sugar levels to go down. And being sick with an infection like the flu can increase your blood sugar levels.

People with diabetes aren't the only ones who are at high risk for flu complications and severe infection. People with asthma, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and many others with chronic medical conditions are also at risk. Are you at risk for flu complications?

There are a few steps you can take to protect yourself from the flu:

  • Wash your hands properly (at least 20 seconds with soap and water) and frequently. If you don't have any soap or water nearby, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid crowds and stay home if you think you have the flu.
  • Cough and sneeze into your arm (not your hand!).
  • Eat healthy and get regular exercise to keep your immune system strong.
  • Get vaccinated. Your doctor may recommend you get the yearly flu vaccine and the pneumococcal vaccine.
  • Manage your diabetes. Take your medication as directed, monitor your blood sugar levels, and follow the treatment plan as recommended by your health care provider.
  • Encourage other members in your household to get the yearly flu vaccine.

If you do end up catching the flu, it's important to see your doctor as soon as you notice the first signs of flu symptoms. Common flu symptoms in the first 4 days of getting the flu include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • muscle aches and pain

Don't wait until your symptoms worsen. People with diabetes should see their doctor as soon as possible so that they can begin treatment. If it's identified early on, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the risk of your flu worsening. Regardless, it is important to get plenty of rest and to stay hydrated. If you would like to obtain an over-the-counter product for your fever or muscle aches, speak to your pharmacist to find the right treatment for you.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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