There’s no getting around it, everyone gets sick. As much as you might try to stay healthy, at some point in time you will end up with a cold or a flu. For people with diabetes, everyday illnesses and infections can send blood glucose levels (BGLs) high or low.
What you do when you do get sick will make a huge difference to how serious the illness can become and how quickly you can get better, so it is important to know what action to take and when. Essentially, you need a sick day management plan and kit.
Your sick day management plan can be drawn up with your GP or a credentialled diabetes educator – it will outline what changes you may need to your usual diabetes management plan to stop your BGLs going too high or too low.
If you don’t already have one of these plans, now is a good time to get one. Aside from the current coronavirus pandemic, the flu season will soon be upon us.
If you are finding it difficult to get to a GP, Diabtes WA can help – our credentialled diabetes educators are qualified to help you draw up a sick day management plan. Learn more about our Diabetes WA Helpline and Telehalth service.
Your personalised plan will outline all the steps you need to take, but the first step – in any plan – is to tell someone. Talk to a family member or trusted friend, tell them you are feeling unwell, let them know about your plan and ask them to check in on you more often.
An illness or infection can affect your BGLs and you will need to check these more often. If you are living with type 1 diabetes you will also need to check your ketone levels, refer to your sick day plan for how often.
You should also be prepared for changes to your medication regime. Your plan will contain the specifics but keep in mind you may need to increase or decrease you dose if you get sick. If you are taking insulin, it is very likely you will need to increase your dose. Some medications may also need to be stopped if you are unwell.
It is also crucial that you keep eating and drinking as best you can – at the very least try to have a cup of fluid every hour. And, most important of all, rest.
Alongside your plan you should have a sick day management kit, filled with everything you will need should you fall ill. Your kit should contain extra medication and – if you use insulin or an insulin pump- additional insulin and insulin syringes or pens. Everyone’s kit will be slightly different, however at the least you should have:
- a copy of your sick day management plan
- a blood glucose meter and testing strips
- your blood glucose diary
- a thermometer
- pain relief medication
- telephone numbers for your doctor and support people.
You should also check your kit every six months to make sure all items – especially your medications – are in date. This will also serve as a remind to replace any items that you may have used.
Diabetes WA is currently running webinars about sick day management for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes – check what’s on.
For more information on managing sick days you can refer to the NDSS resource sheets:
If you don’t have a sick day action plan and would like one, or if you just want to find out more about sick day management, you can call our Diabetes Helpline on 1300 001 880.