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Diabetes & the Flu

Diabetes can weaken your immune system against the flu. It also puts you at an increased risk of flu-related complications.

  • Keep close track of your blood glucose. It can be affected by illness.
  • Get the flu vaccine. It is your best protection against the flu.
  • If you have diabetes you should get the flu shot, not the nasal spray.
  • If you have flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately.

Why does having diabetes put me at higher risk for getting the flu?

Diabetes can weaken your immune system. This weakening makes it harder for your body to fight the flu virus. Being sick can raise your blood glucose and prevent you from eating properly.You are also at risk of flu-related complications like pneumonia.

How can I protect myself from getting the flu?

Getting the flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the flu. The nasal spray vaccine is not safe for people with diabetes. You should get a flu shot.

Because you are at an increased risk of getting pneumonia, talk to your health care provider about the pneumococcal vaccine. The pneumococcal vaccine will protect you against pneumonia. In addition to getting vaccinated, follow our everyday steps to keep yourself healthy this flu season.

I think I have the flu. What should I do?

If you have any flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately. If you have the flu your health care provider can prescribe antiviral medications that can make your symptoms less severe and make you feel better faster.

In addition to following our treatment recommendations, you should:

  • Continue taking your diabetes pills or insulin
  • Test your blood glucose every four hours and track your results
  • Drink lots of calorie-free liquids to stay hydrated
  • Try to eat as you would normally
  • Weigh yourself every day. Losing weight without trying is a sign of high blood glucose

Contact your health care provider or go to an emergency room immediately if you:

  • Are unable to eat normally
  • Go six hours without being able to keep food down
  • Have severe diarrhea
  • Lose five pounds or more
  • Have a temperature over 101o Fahrenheit
  • Get a blood glucose reading lower than 60 mg/dL or more than 300 mg/dL
  • Have trouble breathing
  • Feel sleepy or can’t think clearly

Related Links

Flu and People with Diabetes