Diabetes Sick or Illness

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Diabetes Sick or Illness
Getting sick is scary and especially when you or a loved one has diabetes. During sickness, your body tries to fight off infection, thus raise is cortisol hormone. Which in turn causes rapid and dangerously high blood glucose level. Additionally, when you are not able to keep down fluids or even eat, this causes you to go too low blood glucose level.

Diabetes Sick Day Plan

Any illness among a diabetes individual can make their blood-glucose level to fluctuate. During illness, do not try to stop taking your diabetes pills or insulin even if you cannot eat as normal. Even your doctor recommend you to take extra insulin when you are sick.

  1. Pay close attention to your blood glucose levels - Check your blood glucose every two to four hours and record it. If your blood sugar remains high or getting too low, then consult healthcare professional at your earliest.
  2. Test for the presence of ketones - Type 1 diabetes whose blood glucose level over 250 mg/dl when left untreated leads to ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition develops due to the burning of fat for energy instead of glucose. So you should test the presence of ketones in the urine. Keep taking your diabetes medicines/insulin, even if you cannot keep food down.
  3. Don't avoid medication/insulin – It is quite natural for you to think to avoid medicine during illness, because you may have a fear of going low blood glucose due to eating less. But stress hormones are usually high during an illness that needs extra medicine than usual. An exception is if you are on metformin with dehydration that can affect kidney function. In such a case, ask your doctor whether you can discontinue metformin. You should avoid dehydration by drinking a glass of water or herbal tea every hour. If you are vomiting or diarrhea then drink broth that contains electrolytes.
  4. Drink more liquid - Drink at least one cup of water or other calorie-free, caffeine-free liquid every hour while you are awake.
  5. At least drink fluids - If you cannot eat your usual food, try drinking juice or eating crackers or soup because you still need calories. Also, if you cannot eat enough, you increase your risk of low blood-glucose, also called hypoglycemia.
  6. Be careful about your medications - Larger dose of Aspirin can lower your blood glucose levels. Decongestant medications can raise your blood glucose levels.
  7. Modify medication dose - While fighting an infection, your blood glucose levels tend to rise a little. Thus you need more medication or insulin than usual. However, if you are dehydrated due to vomiting or unable to eat or drink anything, then some people with diabetes may experience very low blood glucose levels.

How much medication/insulin you have to increase during illness? Even some diabetics may need to double their basal insulin say for example from 15 units to 30 units and increase bolus due to increase in insulin resistance in response to infection. Be careful and arbitrarily increase your doses. Also, remember to test more frequently while illness, which makes sure you are not going too high or low.

Urgent symptoms - immediately call health care provider.

  1. Blood-glucose has been above 240 for longer than a day
  2. Have ketones in your urine
  3. Feel sleepier than usual
  4. Have trouble breathing
  5. Can’t think clearly
  6. Throw up more than once
  7. Had diarrhea for more than six hours

How can diabetes compromise your immunity?

According to a 1973 study done by Loma Linda University, when you eat 100 grams of sugar (equal to a 1-liter soda bottle), your white blood cells are 40 % less effective at killing germs.

High blood glucose level can weaken your immune system and harder to fight off the influenza virus. The flu can, in turn, affect your blood glucose levels and leads to blood glucose fluctuations.

People with diabetes are three times more likely to be hospitalized if they get the flu.

High blood sugar appears to unleash destructive molecules dicarbonyls that might interfere with the body’s natural infection fighting defense mechanism beta-defensins. This destructive molecules dicarbonyls are the breakdown product of the glucose.

Diabetes suppresses your immune function especially when your blood sugars are elevated. High blood sugars reduce your white blood cells ability to fight off germs and infections. It makes you sicker. Additionally, sickness requires a longer recovery period.

Why doesn't everyone exposed to the virus get a cold? Cytokines are a pro inflammatory protein molecules produced by your immune system in response to the virus that affected you. Some people’s immune system response effectively may be due to how well they are genetically programmed. Even sometimes your immune system responds well to the virus and not in other times. Many people suffered from a cold for 3 to 4 times a year, and other may not catch a cold even once.

What increases your chance to catch a cold? Cold viruses begin in the nose. If an infected person is near you and coughs or sneezes, this allows air borne viruses to lodge in your nose. Stay away at least 3 feet from the infected person. Infected person hands and fingers are also infected and when they touch door knobs, computer keyboard, telephone, etc. then this object carry the virus. Unknowingly you may touch these object and touch your mucosal membranes may increase your chances to get infected.

Illness - Cold, Flu & Pneumonia

What is the difference between a common cold and flu? A common cold is a milder respiratory infection, whereas flu is a severe infection. However, both can cause a sore throat, running nose, congestion, and cough. Flu additionally has body aches and fever.

Studies show adults had 2 to 3 colds or flu in a year and children had 6 to 12.

How do I know I got flu? You can know by its symptoms of a sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, sudden onset of fever, headache, tiredness, weakness and dry cough. A cough may continue for several weeks.

Keep in mind that bacterial infections, such as sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia, often follow immediately after the flu making them harder to identify. Although they begin more slowly, they are more dangerous.

How do you prevent spreading of flu? Anyone with the flu should cover their mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, wash hands often, and do not share toiletries.

What is some medication useful for flu? Rimantadine (Flumadine) 100 mg twice daily for about five days or Tamiflu 75 mg twice daily for about five days.

What is pneumonia? The bacterium Streptococcus pneumonia infection leads to pneumonia, septicemia (blood poisoning) and meningitis. At its worst, it can cause permanent brain damage or even death.

11 Tips to avoid cold & flu

Avoid exposure to germs, cleanliness, sleep well, physically active, take nutritious foods, including probiotics, and manage stress smartly.

  1. Wash your hands - Remember cold, and flu viruses enter your body through the mucosal membrane such as nose, mouth, and eyes. So don’t touch your face with your hands. Often wash your hands with basic soap and water, if no sink around then you can use sanitizers.
  2. Sleep well - Daily optimal rest is must for the proper functioning of the immune system. Optimal sleep duration and efficiency are needed to keep the cold and flu at bay. Additionally, sound sleep helps the body to recover and repair also helps faster recovery from cold and flu.
  3. Aerobic exercise – Studies show aerobic exercise for 30 minutes at least four days in a week will help boost your body’s ability to fight cold and flu. Exercise raises your heart rate and oxygen supply, thus help fight infection. However, over intensive exercise lower your immune function and cause inflammation, so be in moderation.
  4. Fruits - Berries, Cherries, Peaches, Apricots, Apples, Oranges, Pears, Kiwi, etc. are some fruits rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, fibers, vitamins, and minerals. These nutritious fruits help stop/fight cold and flu.
  5. Soups - Vegetable or chicken soup can help fight infection. Bone broth is nutritious and helps to stop cold and flu, if you take it regularly. Additionally, bone broth help fights off infection, cold, and flu.
  6. Vitamin C - may help avoid and shorten cold and flu attacks. Vitamin C is found naturally in fruits such as cantaloupe, citrus fruits, mango, kiwi, berries, and watermelon. Vitamin C is also available in vegetables such as broccoli, potatoes, spinach, peppers, and tomatoes. This vitamin is also available as a dietary supplement in the form of pills and chewable tablets.
  7. Fresh air – Open windows at least for a short period can help the entry of fresh air. Opening the car windows for some time can allow fresh air circulation, this help removes harmful microorganism if any.
  8. Drink herbal teas - Peppermint, Ginger, Clove, Echinacea, Lemon Balm, Oregano, and Licorice Tea can help improve the immune system. Additionally, herbal teas can help avoid dehydration during illness.
  9. Avoid crowd - During a flu epidemic, if possible avoid crowds that include buses, trains, concerts, movies, and malls. It can help reduce your risk of exposing to flu or cold viruses.
  10. Probiotic – Probiotic drinks such as yogurt and kefir help improve your guts beneficial microbial population. Studies shown people can reduce their cold risk by consuming probiotics regularly.
  11. Reduce stress – Stress can wear off your immune system and its function. Nowadays it is impossible to avoid stress, but it is possible to learn how to deal with it smartly.

Flu & pneumonia vaccination

The best way to prevent the flu is getting vaccinated against those viruses once a year.

Who needs the flu vaccine? The flu vaccine can be useful for anyone over six months age, specifically recommended for people with diabetes, everyone aged 50 or over, and other chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, lung disease, or kidney disease. Once you caught flu, then a vaccine is of no use.

How does the flu vaccine work? Once vaccinated, your body takes about two weeks to develop antibodies; proteins used by your immune system to locate and kill the flu causing viruses. Fall and winter are the favorable environments for the viruses. Thus you need to vaccinate in the early fall. If you missed the vaccine in early fall, still vaccination is beneficial, because flu is a peak in the winter months.

Vaccination is not 100% protective against all the flu viruses, because there may be some less common flu virus that may attack you.

The flu vaccine is made up of inactive virus strains selected by experts based on the prevalence of most common flu virus at that period. It is only effective against these selected virus strains.

Who needs the pneumococcal vaccine? Babies, elderly (aged 65 or over), and children or adults with chronic health conditions such as heart or kidney disease.

Pneumococcal vaccine has about 50-70% effective in preventing pneumonia.

How often is the pneumococcal vaccine given? For babies, three pneumococcal vaccination at eight weeks, 16 weeks, and one year age. For adults, one single pneumococcal vaccination will protect for life. Adults with chronic health conditions may sometimes need a pneumococcal vaccination for every five years.

How does the pneumococcal vaccine work? Pneumococcal vaccine encourages your body to produce antibodies against pneumonia bacteria. Antibodies are proteins produced by the body to neutralize or destroy disease-causing organisms.

More than 90 strains of the pneumonia bacterium have been identified. The childhood vaccine protects against 13 strains, and adult vaccine protects against 23 strains.

You should avoid pneumonia vaccination if you are vaccine allergy, fever, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

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