Diabetes Education

When You Are Sick

Diabetes is part of your life. It’s very important to take care of it when you’re sick, when you’re at school or work, when you travel, or when you’re pregnant or thinking about having a baby. Here are some tips to help you take care of your diabetes at these times.

Take good care of yourself when you have a cold, the flu, an infection, or other illnesses. Being sick can raise your blood glucose. When you’re sick, do the following:

  • Check your blood glucose every 4 hours. Write down the results.
  • Keep taking your diabetes medicines. Even if you can’t keep food down, you still need your diabetes medicine. Ask your doctor or diabetes educator whether to change the amount of diabetes medicine you take.
  • Drink at least a cup (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 drinking juice or eating crackers, popsicles, or soup.
  • If you can’t eat at all, drink clear liquids such as ginger ale. Eat or drink something with sugar in it if you have trouble keeping food down.
  • Test your urine for ketones if
    • your blood glucose is over 240
    • you can’t keep food or liquids down
  • Call your health care provider right away if
    • your blood glucose has been over 240 for longer than a day
    • you have moderate to large amounts of ketones in your urine
    • you feel sleepier than usual
    • you have trouble breathing
    • you can’t think clearly
    • you throw up more than once
    • you’ve had diarrhea for more than 6 hours

The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) is an information dissemination service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The NIDDK is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The goal of Destination Diabetes® is to be a useful and credible resource for the more than 20 million children and adults who have diabetes in the U.S. and their families. Destination Diabetes® provides information on a wide range of diabetes health and wellness topics. Articles are written or reviewed by diabetes advisors who have experience in diabetes education.