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A Harder Fight
Those with diabetes who’ve acquired influenza often have a much more difficult time fighting this viral infection. Blood sugar fluctuates with influenza regardless of diabetes, compounding the impact on those who are afflicted with the condition. Complicating matters are medicines high in sugars which throw your body even further out of balance.
Cold and flu medicine that’s liquid has high sugar. Cough drops are riddled with sugar, and going the “sugar substitute” route isn’t much better. Sugar substitutes often have a greater “sweetness” quotient (as much as 100 times) than natural sugars. This makes sugar substitutes more addictive. Since they’re marketed as a “health” product, and an alternative to sugar for diabetics, in an ironic twist diabetic people end up gaining weight and ingesting more bad food as a result. When you’re sick, and this has become your habit, it can wreak havoc on your body. Unfortunately, if you really want to do your body good, you’re going to have to lay off the sugar and its substitutes.
What You Can Eat
Fruits and vegetables aren’t going to mess you up nearly so bad as sugar derived via processing. Limes. Lemons. Apples can be tricky; they’re very high in sugar, but also good for you. You’re going to have to even things out. Thankfully, water is sugar free and sugar-substitute free. Also, your body needs liquid when you’re sick. Keep hydrated, follow your regular methods of maintaining blood sugar balance, and use as many natural foods as you can which are known to be amenable to quickened recovery in times of illness. You’re going to want foods from your regular meal plan. Every hour or so get about fifteen grams of carbohydrates in you. This can be a slice of toast, a cup of soup, three quarters of a yogurt cup–whatever you and your doctor have worked out. Tea is good, if you need some flavor; though ask your doctor about honey and lemon content–both of which are good to mix with tea in regular circumstances, but which you may not be amenable to. When blood sugar is low, a quarter cup of grape juice or some gatorade can help. Frozen gatorade in ice cubes is a great way to maintain hydration and get the nasty taste of vomit out of your mouth, if your particular influenza infection has led to nauseous episodes.
Blood Sugar Levels and Ketones
To ensure your regular regimen is working, be sure and check your blood sugar levels. The flu is going to throw off your natural perception. When you’re sick, it almost always feels like your sugars are low. Get into the habit of checking levels every three to four hours if you catch the flu. If any major changes happen, you need to have your doctor’s hotline on speed dial, and call him immediately. Also, keep an eye on your ketones. With Type I Diabetes, Ketoacidosis becomes a risk if ketones get too high. This can put you into a deep coma that may kill you.
In short, with Type I diabetes and influenza, best practices include:
- Remaining Hydrated
- Monitoring Blood Sugars Every 3 to 4 Hours
- Avoiding Processed Sugars and Sugar Substitutes, Depending on Blood Sugar Levels
- Monitoring Ketones
- Getting Lots of Rest
The last item on the bullet list, rest, is generally good anyway–but you may need to set an alarm to monitor levels during a good snooze. Keep safe foods and liquids nearby in case of an emergency, and make sure your phone is charged if you’ve got to make an important call!