Diabetes Self-Management Articles

These articles cover a wide range of subjects, from the most basic aspects of diabetes care to the nitty-gritty specifics.

Links not loading properly?

Some of our pages use Portable Document Format (PDF) files, which require Adobe Acrobat Reader. To download Acrobat Reader for free, visit www.adobe.com.

Sign up for our weekly e-mail newsletter and receive a FREE GIFT! Enter your e-mail below.

Learn more

Learn more about diabetes

Links to help you learn more about diabetes.

Ask a diabetes expert
Other diabetes resources
Browse article topics

 

Sick-Day Management

Return to Article

SUPPLEMENTARY CONTENT

Any illness, and particularly one that causes vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration, can trigger either diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS). To avoid having a garden-variety flu turn into something much worse, here are some guidelines to follow when you’re sick:

  • Plan ahead. The best time to discuss sick-day management with your health-care team is before you become sick. You should agree on how to manage your blood glucose, when to test for ketones, and, most important, when to seek medical help. Keep adequate supplies of test strips, ketone strips, and insulin on hand (if insulin is part of your sick-day treatment), and make sure to store them properly.
  • When you are sick, let a friend, neighbor, or relative know, so that he can check in on you and call for help if you are unable to help yourself.
  • If you have symptoms of a cold or flu, check your blood glucose level and test your urine for ketones, and continue checking both every four hours. (In fact, you should set an alarm clock to wake you every four hours during the night.) If your blood glucose level is below 250 mg/dl and your urine shows no ketones, stick with your usual insulin or pill regimen and continue checking your blood and urine every four hours until the symptoms have passed.
  • If your blood glucose level rises above 250 mg/dl, if your urine tests positive for ketones, or if you are vomiting repeatedly, call your health-care provider.
  • Treat the underlying illness. Be sure to consult your health-care team and follow their directions for treating any sickness. This may mean taking a course of antibiotics if you have a bacterial infection or taking acetaminophen or other medicines for a fever. The sooner your illness resolves, the sooner your blood glucose levels go back to normal.
  • If you have vomiting or diarrhea, drink plenty of fluids. Some good choices for fluid replacement are Gatorade or similar products or one standard bouillon cube dissolved in 8 ounces of water. To prevent more vomiting, it is best to sip these fluids a little at a time rather than drinking a large amount all at once.
  • Ask your physician if he recommends any medicines or techniques to minimize nausea and vomiting. Stopping vomiting can be an important step for preventing dehydration.
  • Never skip an insulin dose because of loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting. Even though you’re not eating or keeping food down, your blood glucose may still be high because of the action of the counterregulatory hormones. Frequently monitor your blood and urine, and adjust your insulin dose as needed, with the help of your health-care team.
  • Maintain contact with your health-care team and be prepared to tell them about your blood glucose levels, urine ketones, and the type and quantity of fluids you have consumed.
  • Signs that your condition may be getting worse include continued vomiting, becoming short of breath, or becoming excessively sleepy. Let your health-care provider know: He may recommend that you go to an emergency room.

 

 

Return to Hyperglycemic Crises

More articles on High Blood Glucose

 

 


Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

 

 

Diabetic Ketoacidosis
People who have had diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, will tell you it's worse than any flu they've... Article

Planning Ahead for Sick Days
Having a bad cold or the flu can make anyone want to crawl into bed and stay there until it’s... Article

Managing Your Blood Glucose Ups and Downs
"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other."... Article

Roughly how many calories a day will nursing my baby require? Get tip


Carbohydrate Restriction: An Option for Diabetes Management
Some people find that decreasing the amount of carbohydrate they eat can help with blood glucose control. Here’s what to know about this approach.

Insulin Patch Pumps: A New Tool for Type 2
Patch pumps are simpler to operate than traditional insulin pumps and may be a good option for some people with Type 2 diabetes who need insulin.

How Much Do You Know About Vitamins?
Learn what these micronutrients can and can’t do for you.

Complete table of contents
Get a FREE ISSUE
Subscription questions