Archive for October 23rd, 2014
The nation is preparing for the start of the influenza (flu) season and people living with diabetes should make sure their fall plans include getting vaccinated against the flu. The U.S. flu season runs from late November until March. Because of changes in the various strains, last year’s flu shot will not protect you as a new season begins.
The Flu is a respiratory infection caused by a number of viruses. These viruses are “airborne,” which means they pass through the air and enter the body through the nose or mouth. Each year, the flu is caught by 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population. The flu can be serious or even deadly for elderly people, newborn babies, and people with chronic illnesses like diabetes.
Symptoms of the flu come on suddenly and are worse than those of the common cold.
- Body or muscle aches
- Sore throat
Many people confuse catching a cold with the flu. Colds rarely cause fever or headaches. The flu rarely causes an upset stomach. The condition often called the “stomach flu” isn’t influenza at all, but gastroenteritis.
Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu. Complications of the flu can be life-threatening and result in death.
Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.
People living with diabetes are at greater risk of developing serious complications from the flu and are at a greater risk of having to be hospitalized after contracting the flu. Because of this increased risk, the flu shot should be considered mandatory for people with diabetes.
If you have diabetes – even if your blood sugars are in good control – and are sick with flu-like illness, you should follow these additional steps:
- Be sure to continue taking your diabetes pills or insulin. Don’t stop taking them even if you can’t eat. Your health care provider may even advise you to take more insulin during sickness.
- Test your blood glucose every four hours, and keep track of the results.
- Drink extra (calorie-free) liquids, and try to eat as you normally would. If you can’t, try to have soft foods and liquids containing the equivalent amount of carbohydrates that you usually consume.
- Weigh yourself every day. Losing weight without trying is a sign of high blood glucose.
- Check your temperature every morning and evening. A fever may be a sign of infection.
Call your health care provider or go to an emergency room if any of the following happen to you:
- You feel too sick to eat normally and are unable to keep down food for more than 6 hours.
- You’re having severe diarrhea.
- You lose 5 pounds or more.
- Your temperature is over 101 degrees F.
- Your blood glucose is lower than 60 mg/dL or remains over 250 mg/dL on 2 checks.
- You have moderate or large amounts of ketones in your urine.
- You’re having trouble breathing.
- You feel sleepy or can’t think clearly.
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control