Diabetes and Flu


Flu Shots Limit Diabetes Complications From The Flu


What You Need to Know When You Have Diabetes And Flu

  • When you have diabetes and flu you are at high risk for flu complications.
  • Your risk of hospitalization or dying from the flu is 3 times that for people without diabetes.
  • Small actions everyday can decrease your risk of flu complicating your diabetes.

What You Need to Do When You Have Diabetes And Flu

  • Get a flu shot, not the nasal vaccination.
  • See a doctor at the onset of flu symptoms.
  • Religiously wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid people who are sick.


While you may think you just feel bad like everyone else when they get sick, as someone with diabetes and flu, you need to be extra careful. People with diabetes are at higher risk of flu complications and dying from from flu compared to people without diabetes.

Diabetes and Flu
Diabetes and Flu

If you are diabetic, it is not only be harder for you to fight off the flu virus, but it is also more difficult to keep your diabetes under control. Additionally when you are sick with the flu, you change your eating habits leading to to other challenges with your diabetic control.

Why Am I at Higher Risk For Getting An Infection?

Flu is one of the infections that doctors believe you are higher risk of getting. There are several reasons for this:

  • High Blood Sugar- When your blood sugar levels are high, your immune system, the part of your body responsible for taking out infections, does not work properly.
  •  Nerve Damage- One of the long term complications of diabetes is nerve damage. The better you keep your diabetes under control, the less likely you will develop this complications. However, once you have developed nerve damage, you might not be able to feel pain in your feet. If you step on an object that cause skin damage, you might unknowingly damage your skin. This skin breakdown can then become a portal for infections to enter your body. The flu virus, however, generally is transmitted via the respiratory system as opposed to through a wound.
  •  Circulatory problems- Diabetes can damage blood vessels. When this occurs your body cannot deliver antibodies and other immune system components that help fight off infection effectively.

The key to getting through diabetes and flu is to have a plan. You need to make sure you know what to do if you develop hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Know when to call your doctor. Make sure you and your doctor are on the same page about your diabetes plan.

Why Can’t I Get The Nasal Vaccine?

Because the nasal flu mist vaccine is a live virus vaccine, it is not recommended for people with weakened immune systems. The flu vaccine is well tolerated and flu vaccine side effects are uncommon and generally mild.

Symptoms to Look For With Diabetes And Flu

When you have diabetes be on the look out for the following symptoms:

  • Body Aches
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat

When you have diabetes and flu you need to get treated quickly. Make sure you talk with your doctor about when to call when you have flu symptoms.

Medication When You Have Diabetes And Flu

A class of drugs known as antivirals are used to treat flu. Antivirals are important to decrease keep your diabetes under better control while sick. Antivirals are not available over the counter, so they only available through a prescription form your healthcare provider.

Your health care provider may recommend one or a combination of the following currently available antivirals when you have diabetes and flu:

  • Tamiflu (oseltamivir)
  • Relenza (zanamivir)
  • Flumadine (rimantidine)

Can’t I just Ride It Out- I Don’t Want More Medication

If your doctor makes a diagnosis of flu, either on their clinical suspicion or through a diagnostic test, you should consider antiviral treatment. While most patients with flu need to be treated within 48 hours of developing the flu, diabetes patients may benefit even later- so be sure to contact your doctor as soon as you

What Do I Do If I am Exposed to Flu?

If you have diabetes and you have been exposed to a family member, colleague, or anyone else with flu, you might want to consider chemoprophylaxis. Unlike treatment, your doctor may not offer chemoprophylaxis if more than 48 hours have elapsed since your flu exposure. It is also important to realize that chemoprophylaxis decreases, but does not totally eliminate your chances of developing the flu.

Take Action For Diabetes And Flu

You can keep yourself from getting the flu by getting a flu shot. People can come up with all sorts of crazy rationalizations for not getting the flu shot, but you are just putting yourself at risk. It does not matter if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you need a flu shot and it is the single best thing you can do for yourself. Don’t delay… get your flu shot now.



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