February 16, 2022

Flu and Diabetes: Symptoms and Treatment

The flu can lead to complications for people with diabetes. Learn why flu shots are recommended for use by people with diabetes.


Share This Story

woman sitting on sofa

Home / Living with Diabetes / Flu and Diabetes: Symptoms and Treatment

No one enjoys dealing with the flu, but this disease can cause particularly severe problems if you also have diabetes. Along with the possibility of experiencing more intense flu-related effects, people with diabetes can also find it more difficult to watch their blood glucose levels while dealing with the flu. Because of this, taking steps to protect your health is crucial during flu season.

Of course, there are some ways that you can lower your flu risk and keep symptoms under control if you do get ill. Keep reading for US MED’s guide to managing the flu and diabetes.

How the Flu Affects People with Diabetes

Even if you have diabetes, the flu may seem relatively harmless on its own. Still, you shouldn’t ignore this illness, as its complications can be severe and even deadly. Flu complications are particularly common in people with diabetes, to the point where 30 percent of all adults hospitalized for the flu also had diabetes. That’s true regardless of what type of diabetes you have – this phenomenon affects people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, along with gestational diabetes.

Along with this, the flu can also affect your ability to deal with diabetes and other chronic health conditions. If your immune system is busy fighting the flu, it won’t be able to focus on other infections. At the same time, the flu can cause your blood sugar to spike – or crash, if you’re not able to eat enough while you’re sick. If you get the flu, make sure to give yourself time to recover and follow the advice listed below.

Watch Out for These Flu Symptoms

If you have diabetes, you should contact your healthcare provider as soon as you notice flu symptoms. These symptoms may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Aches and chills
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (especially in children)

Why Getting a Flu Vaccine is Crucial

When you’re getting ready for flu season, your first step should be to get vaccinated for the flu. Flu vaccines are updated annually to keep people protected from the most common flu strains, making them the most effective way to protect yourself from this disease. In fact, research shows vaccines are linked to significantly lower numbers of flu-related hospitalizations in people with diabetes.

According to the CDC, everyone over the age of six months should get vaccinated for the flu annually. These vaccines are safe for use by people with diabetes, as well. Since the immunity provided by flu vaccines takes about two weeks to set in, it’s a good idea to get vaccinated before October ends each year.

Keep Your Pneumococcal Vaccines Current

Flu vaccines aren’t the only vaccinations that can help people with diabetes manage flu symptoms. The flu can also increase your risk of the complication known as pneumococcal disease. That isn’t something you can afford to ignore – after all, pneumonia can be deadly.

To keep yourself safe, making sure your pneumococcal vaccines are up to date is vital. If you have diabetes, make sure pneumococcal vaccination is part of your plan for managing this condition. To learn more on this subject, ask your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for help.

Hygiene Helps, Too

After you get vaccinated, follow these common-sense hygiene tips for an even lower risk of catching or spreading the flu:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Keep your distance from people who have the flu.
  • If you have to sneeze or cough, be sure to cover your mouth and nose.
  • Stay home from school/work when you have flu symptoms.
  • Whenever possible, don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Ways to Treat the Flu

While vaccines can significantly reduce your risk of getting the flu, there’s still a chance that you’ll come down with one strain or another during flu season. In that case, you’ll need to focus on getting the treatment you need as soon as possible – particularly if you have diabetes.

If your symptoms are especially severe, you may want to use antiviral drugs. These drugs can help you recover more quickly while helping to prevent significant complications from arising. It’s an excellent idea to use antiviral medications if you have a heightened risk of flu complications – which is the case for many people with diabetes.

Along with taking these drugs, stay at home, get bed rest, and drink fluids while recovering from the flu. To make things easier for yourself, stock up on at least two weeks’ worth of the diabetes supplies you need in preparation for flu season.

Know When You Need Emergency Care

In some cases, getting rest at home won’t be enough to help you fight the flu. Keep an eye out for signs of flu-related health emergencies, like:

  • Breathing problems
  • Inability to urinate
  • Serious muscle pain
  • Confusion and dizziness
  • Feeling weak

Other emergency flu symptoms seen in children include a bluish tinge in the lips or face, dehydration, ribs pulling in with breaths, and a refusal to walk due to muscle pain.

Manage Diabetes All Year Long With Help From US MED

During flu season and throughout the rest of the year, people with diabetes need to take their condition seriously. That means keeping up on your diabetes supply needs – even though this can quickly get complicated if you’re balancing it with other responsibilities.
woman-drinking-diabetes-safe-beverage
If that sounds like you, don’t worry: US MED is here to help. We’re one of the most respected companies in the diabetes supply industry, a claim we can back up with our accreditations from the Accreditation Commission for Healthcare, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission. Whether you’re getting ready for flu season or just need a supply refill, take a look at the products we sell today!

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Latest Recipes

Read Next:

Knee Exercises

10 Knee Strengthening Exercises to Relieve Knee Pain

How to Strengthen Your Knees Have you ever thought about how often you use your knees? Many people ...
woman doing yoga

Insulin Pump vs CGM

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered several unfamiliar terms in a ...
woman with cgm

How To Apply a Continuous Glucose Monitor

It’s no secret that continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are popular among people with diabetes these days. That’s due ...