How Sick Days and Infection Affect Blood Glucose

High blood glucose levels may be the first sign that you are sick or have an infection. The rise in blood glucose is due to hormonal changes, natural reactions of your body to help you feel better and fight an illness or infection.

At these times you may not feel like eating. If you eat less or do not eat, you may think you should stop taking your diabetes medicine. Do not stop taking it. In fact, you may need more. Also you need to keep eating and drinking fluids. It is best to develop a plan for such times before they happen, so discuss this with your dietitian and doctor.

Do call your doctor if you are unable to keep food down or you have ketones in your urine, or at any other time discussed with your doctor.

You can start preparing now for a sick day by gathering foods to have on hand when your appetite is low, or you are having trouble keeping food down. You may want to keep these foods in a special cabinet or a shoe box, along with other instructions from you diabetes care team. Include several sick day menus that you and your dietitian have developed. When you are not feeling well, you do not want to be running to the store or worried about having something available that you like at these times.

You may wonder about using low-sugar medicines such as low-sugar cough syrups. These medicines can contain sugar alcohols which can cause stomachaches and diarrhea. They may be helpful because they are low in sugar, but be aware of their side effects.

If you can eat, you can follow your basic food plan – just substitute easy to swallow and chew foods, and your "comfort foods" for other foods. You do not need to replace protein and fat; concentrate on replacement carbohydrates choices with others. Examples include cream soup, plain yogurt, mashed potatoes, ice cream, vanilla wafers, unsweetened applesauce, and popsicles.

You can become dehydrated when you are sick because of sweating, vomiting, or dirrhea. Because of this you need to drink or sip liquids when you can. Even a tablespoon of liquid every 10-15 minutes is helpful. Once you can tolerate this amount, have a 1/2 cup to 1 cup of food or liquid every one to two hours, or one carbohydrate choice for every hour you are awake. If you are following your basic food plan, have sugar-free beverages between meals.