Heart Healthy Beats

Tidbits to keep your heart healthy

Tidbit Tuesday – When the Weather is Cold, is your Diabetes Controlled?

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I’ve been working on a few ideas for a diabetes fair and I thought I would share this information with you. This is for diabetics and anyone who knows someone who is diabetic.

A Minor Illness Can Result in a Major Rise in Blood Glucose Levels

Be prepared. As a person with diabetes, you know how important it is to take good care of yourself. Although we all hope to stay healthy year-round, there are always times when you do not feel well. During the winter and early spring many people catch a variety of illnesses such as colds, sore throats, and the flu.

sickIllness puts your body under extra stress. To help you fight an illness, your body releases hormones that cause your liver to release glucose (sugar), and interfere with the action of insulin. This can make your blood sugar rise, sometimes to dangerously high levels. High blood glucose makes your body’s immune system less effective at fighting germs and makes you feel sicker than you would with normal blood glucose.

Avoid a risky situation. Some simple planning can help you keep your blood sugar in control during times of illness so your body can recover quickly. Make a sick day plan and discuss it with your doctor before you become ill. Your plan should include a box of all the supplies and materials you will need to manage your diabetes during illness. 

Preventing Illness

Make sure all your immunizations are up-to-date. In general, most adults with diabetes should have had the following immunizations at some point in their lives: MMR (measles, mumps and rubella); chickenpox (if they have not had them); tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years; pneumonia; and influenza every year before the flu season begins. Your doctor may recommend other vaccinations.

Avoid being around people who are sick.

Wash your hands often.


Discuss the potential for needing extra help and support with family and friends before you become ill.

If You Become Sick

Continue to take your diabetes medication, even if you are unable to eat.

Your medical team may ask you to test your blood sugar more often. Keep written records of you blood sugar levels, medications taken, temperature and weight. You may also be asked to test your urine for ketones if your blood sugar goes very high.

Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Be Prepared

Create a sick day box or drawer that contains:

  • The names and numbers of you primary care doctor, diabetes doctor, and pharmacy
  • Instructions for sick days. Include this list if you do not have a personal plan you have worked out with your doctor.
  • An up-to-date list of all your medical conditions and medications, including doses
  • Calorie-containing clear liquids, such as ginger ale or clear fruit juice
  • Non-caloric clear liquids, such as chicken broth, sugar-free gelatin, diet soda and water
  • Glucose tablets or glucose gel for treating hypoglycemia
  • An extra box of blood glucose test strips and lancets
  • If you use insulin extra syringes, pen needles, or insulin pump supplies
  • A thermometer
  • Kleenex packets and over-the-counter medications for sore-throat, cough, nasal congestion, fever, headache, diarrhea, etc. as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hard candy – peppermint is good for an upset stomach
  • An alarm clock, to remind you to check your blood glucose regularly
  • A box of urine ketone test strips
  • Paper, such as a blood glucose record book or notebook, and a pen or pencil for writing blood glucose results and other important records
  • A list of 15 gram carbohydrate (CHO) foods and fluids that are usually on hand (discuss with your dietitian).

Call Your Doctor When:

  • You feel unsure of what to do.
  • You have not eaten normally for more than 24 hours.
  • You have a fever over 101 degrees.
  • You cannot keep any liquids down for more than 4 hours.
  • You have vomiting and/or diarrhea for more than 4 hours.
  • You lose 5 pounds or more during the illness.
  • You have moderate to high ketone levels in your urine.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have trouble concentrating or staying awake.
  • You have symptoms of dehydration or ketosis: sunken eyes; dry cracked lips, mouth, or tongue; skin that remains “tented up” after being pinched; fruity smelling breath; nausea and dizziness; difficulty concentrating.

Questions to Ask

  1. Do I have a written plan from my medical team to guide me on sick days?
  2. Have I made a sick day box with needed medicines and foods?
  3. Have I trained at least two people who can help me if I am sick?

Author: Ashley

A country girl spending her life in her garden and kitchen with her husband and two beautiful boys

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