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The Prescription To Manage Your Sick Day

Nobody likes being sick, but as we enter into the height of flu season those with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) need to take extra care. An illness like a cold or flu can cause your blood glucose level to spike very high, so it is important to recognize the signs of an illness early and have a plan in place. If you don’t already have a “sick day plan” in place be sure to create one with your diabetes care team. This plan will help guide you through your illness, letting you know how often to monitor your blood glucose and when you may need to do a ketone test. A sick day plan will also suggest the best food and beverages for managing your illness, and will detail when it is necessary to call your doctor.

Just like anyone else with an illness you will want to stay warm, get plenty of rest and drink fluids while sick. However diabetics must also make it a priority to follow the nutrition, medication and monitoring measures of your treatment plan.

What to eat and drink when you are sick:

  • Maintain your usual diet, if possible.
  • Drink calorie-free beverages (water, caffeine-free diet soda) to fight dehydration.
  • Develop a sick day menu with your care team and try to consume your usual number of carbs. Foods like Jell-O, crackers, soup and apple sauce are good choices.
  • If you cannot handle solid food, drink only liquids. Regular sodas, juice, sports drinks and popsicles will help give you the carbs you need.

Be sure to continue to take diabetes medication, if you normally do.


  • Check your blood glucose often when you are sick (at least 4 times a day).
  • Keep plenty of extra test strips on hand and record your results.

When to call your diabetes care team:

  • Blood glucose results greater than 240mg/dl
  • Fever of 101 degrees or higher
  • Vomiting or diarrhea Symptoms of dehydration (dry mouth, thirst, dry lips)
  • Symptoms of ketoacidosis, including stomach pain, confusion, trouble breathing, dry mouth or fruity breath