Unfortunately, the holidays fall right in the middle of cold and flu season. When you are ill with the cold or flu, your body can become run down and make you susceptible to serious complications, including bacterial pneumonia and dehydration. Colds and flu also tend to disrupt blood glucose control, making it harder to manage your diabetes. Taking steps to prevent illness and the spread of germs is your best defense for staying well.
People with diabetes are in the “high risk” category for flu and should be among the first to be immunized against it. If for some reason you didn’t get the influenza vaccine during the autumn season, check with your health-care team about doing it now since flu season can last until spring. The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in healthy people 5 years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant, but it is not recommended for those with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes. A flu vaccination is the best way to reduce your risk of catching the flu.
Your physician will likely recommend that other members of your family be immunized against influenza to prevent bringing unnecessary illness into the household.
People with diabetes are also considered at higher risk for pneumonia, so anyone with diabetes who is over the age of two and not currently pregnant is advised to get a pneumonia vaccine. If you had your first vaccine under the age of 65, you are now over 65, and it has been five years since your previous vaccination, your physician will likely recommend another.
If possible, stay away from anyone who is ill to lower your chances of becoming ill. Similarly, if you are ill, stay away from others to protect their health.
Keep your hands clean by scrubbing them for at least 15 seconds with warm water and soap.
Keep your resistance to illness up by eating healthy, staying active, and getting plenty of sleep. It is also a good idea to avoid smoking or being around secondhand smoke in your efforts to stay well.
Cover your cough. Serious respiratory illnesses like influenza are spread by coughing or sneezing and unclean hands. To help stop the spread of germs, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Put your used tissue in a wastebasket. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing. Wash with soap and water, or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner.
Note: These tips were adapted from information on the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm.