How to take care of yourself when you have diabetes and a short-term illness like a cold.
What do I do if I'm Sick?

What is the purpose of this leaf?

  • This leaf discusses how to take care of yourself when you have a short-term illness like a cold.
  • It covers some basic points about what to do during a sick day.
  • It offers hints on types of over-the-counter cold medicines to use.
Managing diabetes during minor illness
  • Having even a minor illness can affect blood sugarcausing the blood sugar to go up or down.
  • During times of illness, it is important to pay attention to the sick day plan recommended by your doctor.
During sick days:
  • Blood glucose should be about 150 mg/dl.
  • Continue to drink water so you do not get dehydrated.
  • Check your urine for ketones.
  • Ketones should be negative or small.
Call your doctor, if:
  • Your glucose is over 250 mg/dl.
  • Ketones are moderate or large.
  • You have fever over 101 degrees which does not go down after taking Tylenol.
  • You feel groggy or confused.
  • You have vomited more than once.
  • You have diarrhea for more than 24 hours.
  • You are unable to keep down liquids.
  • The illness lasts more than 2 days.
Blood sugar levels become very important
  • It becomes important to check your blood glucose more often during times of illness.
  • For example, if you are undergoing cancer treatment, the treatment will affect your blood sugar.
Sick day self care
  • Your sick day plan not only requires you to test your blood sugar more frequently but it may also recommend making adjustments in the amount of diabetes medicine to be taken.
  • If you use over-the-counter medicines, check the label for added sugar and look for a substitute medicine (or ask the pharmacist), if they contain sugar.
Using Over-the-Counter medicines
  • Make sure it is sugar free
    • Sugar free cough drops.
    • Sugar free cough syrup.
    • Sugar free drinks.
  • If you are not sure about the sugar content of the medicine, read the label or ask the pharmacist.
Some Guidelines
  • Some cold medicine may contain pain reliever and some cough medicine may contain sugar.
  • If you have kidney disease, do not use ibuprofen.
  • Most antacids like Maalox are sugar freebut you need to read the label.
More Guidelines
  • Some cold capsules may not be good if you have high blood pressure.
  • Sugar-free lozenges and gargling with salt water can help a sore throat.
  • If you are not sure about the medicine, ask the pharmacist.
Why ask?
  • Many over-the-counter medicines can be dangerous if they interact with other medicine that you might be taking.
  • Thay may also keep other medicine from working.
Sick day self-care
  • Have your own medicine cabinet area where you keep your sugar-free medicine separate from your familys.
  • Keep a record of your blood sugars.
  • Carry a medical alert card or wear a medical alert bracelet that says you are diabetic.
  • Medical alert bracelets are available in most drug stores.
Self-care Medicine List
  • Help your doctors and your family by keeping an up-to-date list of your all your medicines
    • Share the list with your doctors at each visit.
    • Let family know where you keep the list.
    • If the words are too long, put the medicines in a bag or container and take it with you to each appointment.
Stay healthy: Get a flu shot
  • If your doctor recommends it, get an annual flu shot.
  • The best time to get a flu shot is in October or November.



top of page