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Diabetes: Caring for Your Diabetes at Special Times

Introduction

Diabetes is part of your life. You can learn how to take care of yourself and your diabetes when you're sick, when you're at work or school, when you travel, when you're thinking about having a baby or are pregnant, or when there's an emergency or natural disaster.

When You're Sick

Having a cold, the flu, or an infection can raise your blood glucose levels. You can have serious health problems leading to a coma if your blood glucose levels are very high.

Be prepared for illness. Make a plan ahead of time for sick days. Ask your health care team

  • how often to check your blood glucose levels
  • whether you should check for ketones in your blood or urine
  • whether you should change your usual dose of your diabetes medicines
  • what to eat and drink
  • when to call your health care provider

Your health care team may recommend the following:

  • Check your blood glucose level at least four times a day and write down the results in your record book. Keep your results handy so you can report results to your health care team.
  • Keep taking your diabetes medicines, even if you're not able to eat.
  • Drink at least 1 cup, or 8 ounces, of water or other calorie-free, caffeine-free liquid every hour while you're awake.
  • If you can't eat your usual food, try eating or drinking any of the following:
    • juice
    • saltine crackers
    • dry toast
    • soup
    • broth or bouillon
    • popsicles or sherbet
    • regular-not sugar-free-gelatin
    • milk
    • yogurt
    • regular-not sugar-free-soda

Your health care provider may say you should call right away if

  • your blood glucose levels are above 240 even though you've taken your diabetes medicines
  • your urine or blood ketone levels are above normal
  • you vomit more than once
  • you have diarrhea for more than 6 hours
  • you have trouble breathing
  • you have a high fever
  • you can't think clearly or you feel sleepier than usual

You should call your health care provider if you have questions about taking care of yourself.

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