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Navigating Sick Days

Man sick with blanket around him

When you have type 2 diabetes, even minor illnesses can lead to major health problems. Which is why having a plan in place when you are feeling ill can prevent things from getting worse.

Ways your body responds to illness with type 2

When you are sick and you have type 2, your body responds by releasing extra glucose into the blood. This may lead to hyperglycemia, which can be dangerous.
Low blood sugar is also a concern. You might have a hard time eating when you’re sick or keeping food down, which can increase your risk of low blood sugar.

Creating a plan for when you are sick

Like any plan, it’s a good idea to jot it down. First grab a pen and paper. Next, start writing down important information like:
· Your healthcare provider’s name and phone number
· Pharmacy provider’s name and phone number
· List out your medication names and instructions
· List out all food allergies including medications and food intolerances
You can also type up your plan and email it to a family member or friend. It might even be helpful to take photos of your medications just in case. Keep your note in a place that’s readily accessible, like attaching it to your refrigerator magnet or keeping it laminated in your wallet with your insurance card.

How to avoid complications

To avoid dangerous complications when you’re feeling sick, follow these tips:
Consider checking your glucose levels every 2–4 hours while you’re awake.

Stay hydrated between meals with calorie-free liquids like water, broth and sugar-free drinks. Drinking eight ounces per hour when you’re awake is ideal.

If you’re having trouble eating, get your nutrition from liquids or soft foods. If your blood sugar gets too low, consider having a liquid, fast-acting carb on hand, such as glucose tablets or fruit juice.

Keep taking your medications as prescribed. Check your glucose levels before taking your medications, especially things like insulin, which requires dosing.

Try to avoid over-the-counter medicines that affect glucose levels, such as cough medicine (which can contain sugar) and medicines that contain phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine (found in multiple over the counter medications).
When in doubt, talk to your treating local provider or Level2 care team.
It’s also a good idea to have a trusted friend or family member available who can speak on your behalf or drive you to seek additional medical attention.