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Feeling fine? It's the perfect day to create a sick day plan.

When you're feeling ill, you'd like nothing more than to lie in bed with a good book or a bad movie. Yet that's when you need to focus even more on diabetes self-care.

The key to sick days with diabetes is doing all of the thinking ahead of time. That way, when you don't feel like concentrating, you can simply follow the plan. 

Involve your diabetes care team in developing your sick day plan—ask them when you should call for help, how often you should check your blood glucose and ketones, what medicines to take and what to eat.

At the first sign of illness

Understanding how illness might affect your blood glucose can help you take the right steps to care for yourself. For example:1

  • If you use insulin, don't stop taking it. Even if you are having trouble eating, you will likely need extra insulin to combat the hormones that often cause high blood glucose during illness. Follow your healthcare provider's recommendations.
  • Monitor blood glucose levels and urine ketones frequently—every four hours or so if you have type 1 diabetes.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink calorie-free, caffeine-free, clear liquids.
  • Make sure you eat according to your regular meal plan. Keep easy-to-eat, fast-acting carbohydrates available. They can be useful in treating a low, as well as substituting for a meal. If you feel nauseated or are vomiting, try a sports drink, juice, regular soda or even frozen fruit bars to get the carbs you need.
  • Talk to your diabetes care provider about any medications you take, or any unexpected blood glucose results you experience while taking them. Some cold medicines, antibiotics and other prescription and over-the-counter drugs are known to affect blood glucose levels.

When to contact your healthcare team

Get in touch with your doctor any time they recommend, as well as when you:1

  • Have been sick or had a fever for a couple of days without improvement.
  • Have been vomiting or having diarrhea for more than 6 hours.
  • Detect moderate to large ketones in your urine.
  • Have blood glucose higher than 240 mg/dL even after increasing insulin and fluids.
  • Experience symptoms that might signal ketoacidosis or dehydration, such as worsening abdominal pain, trouble breathing or breath that smells fruity or like acetone.

The key to successfully navigating an illness is preparation. By creating your sick day plan and kit before you experience the first signs of illness, you'll be ready to attack a virus head-on.

Interested in more diabetes management tips?

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1American Diabetes Association. When you're sick. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/whos-on-.... Accessed April 30, 2016.

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