Flu and diabetes: How will the flu affect my blood glucose levels?

Flu and diabetes: How will the flu affect my blood glucose levels?

The flu can be serious for anyone. But for people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, the risk of hospitalisation can be as much as ten times higher (1). After all, anything that affects your health can have an impact on your diabetes. And the flu affects your blood glucose levels, making it difficult to keep them under control (1)(2).

Risk of hypos or hypers

The flu usually causes an increase in blood glucose levels (2). Why? Because during an illness, your body releases extra glucose into your bloodstream in a bid to help combat the illness (3). In people with diabetes, this release of glucose can lead to hyperglycaemia, or a hyper, if your blood glucose levels are too high (4)(5).

If you have type 1 diabetes, your ketones might also become too high (2). You might fall into a diabetic coma, and this can be extremely serious if untreated (2).

Many people with diabetes don’t feel hungry or thirsty if they have the flu (2). So, if you’re on medication that can cause hypoglycaemia, or a hypo (5), you may be at risk of your blood glucose becoming too low if you don’t take in enough carbohydrates while you’re ill (2).

Added to that, some flu medications may contain a relatively high level of sugar, which could make it even more difficult for you to manage your blood sugar levels (2).

Check blood glucose levels

If you do get the flu, it is important that you check your blood glucose levels more regularly than usual (2). The flu can mask symptoms of hypoglycaemia or hyperglycemia, both of which can be serious if not treated quickly enough (2). How often you check your blood glucose depends on your particular circumstances and the medication you take (2).

And if you have type 1 diabetes, it is advisable to follow up any high blood glucose readings with a test for ketones (2)(3).

If having the flu isn’t serious enough, the flu is even more serious for people with diabetes.


References
(1) https://www.vaccinestoday.eu/stories/diabetes-flu-devastating-combination/
(2) https://www.diabetes.co.uk/flu-and-diabetes.html
(3) https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-and-illness.html
(4) https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/complications/hypers
(5) https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/complications

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