Sunday, September 21, 2014

Managing your blood sugar when you're sick

I was really sick this past week, so sick that I feel like I lost several days, if not the entire week.  It was a really bad cold, but it felt much worse than most colds I've ever had.  I suspect I had this enterovirus that has been going around lately, because of the impact it had on my breathing.

I don't know about other diabetics, but my blood sugars run crazy high when I'm sick.  Of course this is probably dependent on your type of insulin regimen.  I'm on Lantus, a fairly stable 24-hour insulin, and only take short-acting insulin when I eat, so if I skip meals it's no big deal.  Someone who takes a long-acting insulin with peaks and valleys will probably crash if they don't eat when they are supposed to.

In general, though, I think the physical stress your body is under when you're sick causes it to dump extra sugar into the bloodstream for additional energy to help your cells fight whatever illness you have.  Your body is mustering all its defenses during this period.  As a result, my blood sugar typically soars when I'm sick, like with any other physical stress.

So what do you do about it?  The first thing is to forget about maintaining tight control while you're sick.  It simply isn't possible.  Don't worry about it.

That being said, though, you need to check your blood sugar often and correct for highs, even if you have the flu or something else that is keeping you from eating.  Your body is dealing with too much else to also be dealing with high blood sugar and its side effects (such as dehydration).

Set timers to remind you to check your blood sugars.  Or, if you are taking medicine, simply check your blood sugar every time you get up to take medicine.  That's an easy way to remember.

If you do take a long-acting insulin that will cause you to crash if you don't eat meals, try sipping on soda or something else that will settle your stomach or is easy to consume, even if you have a sore throat.  I know it's hard to eat when you're sick; even with just a cold, I didn't have much of an appetite while I was sick.

It's hard to remember to monitor your diabetes when you feel like shit, so if you have someone living with you who can remind you to do these things, ask them to help!

And most importantly of all, feel better soon!

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