Managing Diabetes on Sick Days

When we become ill, food does not seem appealing, which is ok! It is common that we skip meals or food completely on our sick days. Not eating changes our blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels become too high, hyperglycemia can develop. If blood sugar levels become too low, hypoglycemia can develop. Too high or too low blood sugar levels can create complications both in the short and long term. 

5 Helpful “Sick Day Tips” For Diabetes Management 

1. Check your blood sugar more frequently than usual. It is important to monitor your blood sugar levels and watch for hyper or hypoglycemia. If this is too difficult, have a friend or family member do this for you.  

2. Drink lots of liquid to stay hydrated.  When you are ill, your body needs lots of fluids to recover, preferably water.  

3. If possible, try to eat little and often. 

  • If your blood sugar levels are are too low... simple, plain foods like crackers can help. Crackers are easy on the stomach and are a carbohydrate that breaks down into glucose or sugar.  This will raise your blood sugar levels. If food is hard to eat or swallow, a sugary drink like sprite or ginger ale might help as well.  
  • If your blood sugar levels are too high... you may need to adjust your diabetes medication.

4. If you have type 1 diabetes, check for ketones if your blood sugar is 250 or higher. Your body produces ketones during periods of fasting. Too many ketones are unhealthy. 

5. Contact your doctor about your diabetes medication. Depending on the medication, your doctor may recommend you to keep taking your medication, to stop all together, or limit your doses.  

References:  

Diabetes UK. Diabetes When You’re Unwell. Cited 10 June 2020. Available From:  https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/life-with-diabetes/illness 

Lang, David M. Why Diabetic Patients Need A “Sick Day” Plan. Cited 10 June 2020. Available from: http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asn&AN=108503894