A family of four, two kids and two adults all holding kleenex

Canadians suffer from approximately 7.5 million colds per year. 2.3 million cases of gastroenteritis (stomach flu), and there are approximately 1.8 million people in Canada over the age of 12 who have diabetes. I’m not a math prodigy, but I can tell you one thing by looking at these figures: people with diabetes get sick. As with patients without diabetes, those with diabetes can experience acute illnesses such as influenza, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea. These patients and their health care providers must understand appropriate sick day management to ensure positive outcomes.

The first step is to increase monitoring of blood sugars. The body responds to illness by releasing hormones that can increase blood sugar and make it harder to control. Those with type 1 diabetes or those with type 2 diabetes who take insulin (especially those taking multiple daily doses) should check their blood glucose every two to four hours. It is also important to continue taking insulin and not stop it simply because you are sick. Patients with type 2 diabetes who are not taking insulin should check blood glucose two to four times a day.

Preventing dehydration is also important to drink plenty of fluids aim for one cup of non-sugar fluids per hour unless prescribed to limit your fluids. Limit caffeine, containing drinks as this can worsen dehydration. You are at risk of dehydration if you have vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or exposure to heat without drinking enough.

If symptoms last more than 24 hours and you are becoming or are at risk of dehydration, certain medications should be held temporarily. This list includes:

  • certain blood pressure/heart medications
  • all water pills
  • certain diabetes pills
  • anti-inflammatory medication

The best option is to speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure which medications should be held.

Try your best to stay healthy- get rest, wash your hands, take your medication as prescribed. If you do get sick, hopefully, this helps. Take care of yourselves and each other.