When illness strikes, managing your blood sugar levels becomes crucial for individuals living with diabetes. Coping with a cold, flu, or any other illness can be even more challenging when diabetes is in the mix. To shed light on this topic, we spoke with medical professionals and individuals who have successfully navigated the complexities of staying healthy while sick. In this comprehensive article, we will provide valuable insights, personal stories, and expert advice to help you manage your diabetes effectively during times of illness.

Mary’s Battle with the Flu

Mary, a determined individual living with diabetes, shares her experience of managing her condition while coping with the flu. “During my illness, I realized that closely monitoring my blood sugar levels was crucial. I made sure to increase my fluid intake to prevent dehydration and maintain stable blood sugar,” she recalls. Mary also continued taking her prescribed medications and sought guidance from her healthcare provider, who helped her adjust her insulin dosages. Through regular communication and diligent self-care, Mary was able to weather the flu while keeping her diabetes under control.

Dr. Johnson, an experienced endocrinologist, provides essential guidance for individuals with diabetes who are managing their condition while sick. He advises, “During illness, individuals should closely monitor their blood sugar levels. It’s important to increase hydration by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water. Consuming simple carbohydrates like fruit juice or popsicles can help prevent hypoglycemia. If you experience any significant changes or difficulties, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for adjustments in your treatment plan.”

Tom’s Diabetes and Stomach Bug

Tom, a college student, shares his story of managing diabetes while dealing with a stomach bug. “It was challenging to manage my blood sugar levels when I couldn’t keep any food down,” he says. Tom reached out to his doctor, who provided crucial advice to help him navigate this situation. “I was advised to test my blood sugar frequently and consider eating small, manageable meals like crackers and toast,” Tom explains. By following these recommendations and gradually increasing his food intake, Tom was able to keep his blood sugar under control and recover from the stomach bug.

Dr. Rodriguez, a respected gastroenterologist, emphasizes the importance of seeking medical guidance when individuals with diabetes experience gastrointestinal issues. She explains, “People with diabetes who are dealing with stomach bugs or other gastrointestinal problems should contact their healthcare provider. We can assist in modifying their medication regimen and provide tailored dietary recommendations to ensure blood sugar stability.”

What are these symptoms you should watch out for?
If you have diabetes and you become sick, it’s important to be aware of certain symptoms that may indicate a potential complication or the need for medical attention. Here are some signs to watch out for:

Symptoms of hyperglycemia:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Fruity breath odor
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty concentrating

Symptoms of hypoglycemia:

  • Sweating
  • Shakiness or trembling
  • Hunger
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability or mood changes
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Rapid heartbeat

When should you call or contact your healthcare provider?

When you have diabetes and fall sick, there are certain circumstances in which you should call a doctor or even dial 911 for immediate medical assistance. It’s important to prioritize your health and take action when necessary. Here are some instances that require medical attention:

Severe hypoglycemia: If you experience extremely low blood sugar levels (typically below 70 mg/dL or as advised by your healthcare provider) and are unable to raise your blood sugar through usual means such as consuming fast-acting carbohydrates, it is essential to seek medical help. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to loss of consciousness or seizures, requiring immediate medical intervention.

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA): DKA is a life-threatening condition that can occur when there is a serious lack of insulin in the body, resulting in high blood sugar, the presence of ketones, and metabolic acidosis. Symptoms of DKA include excessive thirst, frequent urination, confusion, fruity-scented breath, and abdominal pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state (HHS): HHS is a rare complication of diabetes usually occurring in individuals with type 2 diabetes. It is characterized by extremely high blood sugar levels and severe dehydration. Symptoms may include extreme thirst, dry mouth, confusion, weakness, and paralysis on one side of the body. If you experience these symptoms, it is important to call a doctor or seek medical assistance promptly.

Severe illness or infection: Serious illnesses, infections, or complications arising from other health conditions can significantly impact blood sugar control. If you fall sick and experience persistent high blood sugar levels or are unable to keep your blood sugar within a manageable range despite your efforts, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider for guidance and appropriate treatment adjustments.

Chest pain or signs of a heart attack: Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, and individuals with diabetes are more prone to heart attacks. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, pain radiating down the arm, or any other symptoms that may indicate a heart attack, it is crucial to call 911 immediately.

Remember, this is not an exhaustive list, and individual circumstances can vary. It is always best to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized guidance on when to seek medical attention based on your specific situation.


Helpful Tips To Keep You Healthy While Sick with Diabetes

Monitor your blood sugar levels diligently: Regularly check your blood sugar levels to stay on top of any fluctuations. Sick days may affect your blood sugar, so be vigilant in keeping track.

Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, herbal tea, and sugar-free beverages, to prevent dehydration. Fluid intake helps avoid electrolyte imbalances and maintains stable blood sugar levels.

Continue taking prescribed medications: It’s crucial to adhere to your prescribed diabetes medications, even when you are feeling unwell. Consult your healthcare provider for any necessary adjustments to your dosage during illness.

Maintain a balanced diet: While sick, it may be challenging to consume a regular diet. Opt for easily digestible foods that are gentle on your stomach. Examples include soups, toast, sugar-free gelatin, and boiled vegetables.

Seek appropriate medical advice: If your illness persists or you experience significant changes in your blood sugar levels, consult your healthcare provider. They can assist in modifying your treatment plan and provide personalized guidelines for managing your diabetes while sick.

Rest and prioritize self-care: Allow your body ample time to rest and recover. Do not push yourself excessively during illness, as stress and fatigue can impact blood sugar levels.


Managing diabetes while sick requires proactive management, open communication with healthcare professionals, and a focus on self-care. By closely monitoring blood sugar levels, staying hydrated, continuing prescribed medications, carefully choosing your diet, seeking appropriate medical advice, and prioritizing rest, you can navigate illness while effectively managing your diabetes. Remember, everyone’s experience may vary, and it’s crucial to seek individualized guidance from healthcare providers, such as endocrinologists and gastroenterologists, to ensure optimal diabetes management during times of sickness.

Through personal stories like Mary’s and Tom’s, we have seen the importance of diligent self-care and seeking expert advice when dealing with illness. By arming yourself with knowledge, you can effectively manage your diabetes, stay healthy, and recover successfully when faced with illness. Remember, you are not alone in this journey – reach out to your healthcare team for support and guidance throughout the process.

Stay healthy, stay resilient, and take care of yourself!