Why Sick Days Require Special Attention
When you’re sick, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol, which can raise blood sugar levels. Additionally, fever, dehydration, and changes in eating habits when you’re not feeling well can all affect your diabetes management. Failing to manage your diabetes during illness can lead to complications, such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or hyperglycemia, which can be life-threatening if not addressed promptly.
Sick Day Plan
1. Consult Your Healthcare Team
The foundation of managing diabetes during sick days is communication with your healthcare team. Before you get sick, discuss a sick day plan with your healthcare provider. They can help you develop a personalized plan tailored to your specific needs and medications. Make sure you have a list of emergency contacts, including your doctor and a trusted friend or family member who can assist you if needed.
2. Monitor Your Blood Sugar
During illness, it’s crucial to monitor your blood sugar levels more frequently than usual. You may need to check your blood sugar every 2-4 hours, especially if you’re experiencing fluctuations. Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) can be particularly helpful in providing real-time data.
3. Stay Hydrated
Illness can lead to dehydration, which can affect your blood sugar levels. Drink plenty of water and clear fluids to stay hydrated. If you’re unable to keep food down, sip on sugar-free beverages to prevent dehydration.
4. Adjust Your Medications
Work with your healthcare team to determine if any adjustments to your diabetes medications are necessary during sick days. You may need to change your insulin dosages or temporarily switch to a different medication regimen. Follow their guidance carefully.
5. Eat Regularly (if Possible)
Try to maintain a regular eating schedule if you can tolerate food. Choose foods that are easy on your stomach, such as clear broths, sugar-free gelatin, or whole-grain crackers. Avoid high-sugar foods and beverages that can cause blood sugar spikes.
6. Rest and Prioritize Self-Care
Rest is essential when you’re sick, as it helps your body heal. Prioritize self-care by getting enough sleep, managing stress, and practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation to keep stress hormones in check.
Signs of Trouble
Even with a well-thought-out sick day plan, complications can still arise. It’s essential to be vigilant and aware of warning signs that indicate your condition is deteriorating. Contact your healthcare team or seek immediate medical attention if you experience:
- Persistent high blood sugar levels: If your blood sugar remains consistently elevated despite following your sick day plan, it may be a sign of an underlying issue that requires medical intervention.
- Ketones in your urine: High levels of ketones can be a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a severe and life-threatening complication. Test your urine for ketones if instructed by your healthcare provider and contact them immediately if ketones are present.
- Severe dehydration: Signs of severe dehydration include extreme thirst, dry mouth, dark urine, dizziness, and confusion. Dehydration can worsen blood sugar control and require medical attention.
- Breathing difficulties: If you experience rapid, shallow breathing, or shortness of breath, it could be a sign of a serious complication and should be addressed immediately.
- Persistent vomiting or diarrhea: These symptoms can lead to dehydration and difficulties in managing your diabetes. Seek medical help if you can’t keep fluids down.