Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Your Diabetes Sick-Day Plan


Tips to manage your diabetes even if you’re under the weather


Having a cold, the flu, or an infection can raise your blood glucose levels. Being sick puts stress on your body. Your body releases hormones to deal with the stress and to fight the sickness. Higher hormone levels can also cause high blood glucose levels. You should have a plan for managing your diabetes when you’re sick. The first step is to talk with your healthcare team and write down:
  • how often to check your blood glucose levels
  • whether you should check for ketones in your blood or urine
  • whether you should change your usual dose of your diabetes medicines
  • what to eat and drink
  • when to call your doctor

Action Steps If You Take Insulin

  •  Take your insulin, even if you are sick and have been throwing up.
  •  Ask your healthcare team about how to adjust your insulin dose based on your blood glucose test results. 

Action Steps If You Don't Take Insulin

  • Take your diabetes medicine even if you are sick and have been throwing up.

People who are sick sometimes feel as though they can’t eat as much or can’t keep food down, which can cause low blood glucose levels. Consuming carbohydrate-rich drinks or snacks can help prevent low blood glucose. If you are sick, your healthcare team may recommend the following:

  • Check your blood glucose levels at least four times a day and write down the results in your record book. Keep your results handy so you can report the results to your health care team. A smartphone app like Sugar Sense, for Android and iOS, is a great way to gather your diabetes numbers in one place, and features handy charts for displaying your levels over time.
  • Keep taking your diabetes medicines, even if you can’t eat.
  • Drink at least 1 cup, or 8 ounces, of water or other calorie-free, caffeine-free liquid every hour while you’re awake.

If you can’t eat your usual food, try eating or drinking any of the following to prevent low blood glucose levels:
  • juice
  • saltine crackers
  • dry toast
  • soup
  • broth or bouillon
  • ice pops or sherbet
  • gelatin that isn’t sugar-free
  • milk 
  • yogurt
  • soda that isn’t sugar-free

Your doctor may ask that you call right away if:
  • your blood glucose levels are above 240 even though you’ve taken your diabetes medicines 
  • your urine or blood ketone levels are above normal
  • you vomit more than once
  • you have diarrhea for more than 6 hours
  • you have trouble breathing
  • you have a high fever
  • you can’t think clearly or you feel more drowsy than usual
You should call your doctor if you have questions about taking care of yourself.

Published on March 11, 2015. 

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. February 12, 2014.
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