Making a Good Sick Day Plan
By creating a “sick day plan” ahead of time, you’ll know exactly what to do when trouble arises.
Here are some important elements to consider when drawing up your plan:
It’s easy to jot down general guidelines, thinking you’ll remember the details when the time comes. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.
Give yourself an advantage by detailing the symptoms to look for, the measurements to consider, and the precise steps to follow should you come down with an illness.
If you have type 1 diabetes, know when to test your urine for ketones (some type 2 diabetics may need to do this as well). It’s also a good idea remind yourself on paper to check your temperature regularly, and to eat carbohydrates every three to four hours.
What to Take and What to Avoid
You may need to take a larger dose of insulin when you’re sick. Ask your doctor exactly how much extra to take, and keep taking it even if you can’t keep food down.
As for cold and flu medications, not every product is created equal: ask your doctor which brands are sugar-free (and so won’t interfere with your blood sugar), and which ones could lower your blood sugar too much (like aspirin and some antibiotics).
How to Eat to Help Your Body Recover
Do your best to stick to your regular menu plan — as long as your body allows. Fever, vomiting or diarrhea calls for extra fluids, especially water and maybe some other non-caloric drinks.
If you can’t keep food down, opt for liquids that have carbohydrates: juice, broth, electrolyte drinks, and if your tummy can handle them, yogurt drinks. Remind yourself of this on your sick day plan.
When to Call Your Doctor or an Ambulance
A little extra rest, relaxation and hydration can go a long way — in many cases, a stretch of good self-care will get you back in good health shortly. However, diabetes can make any illness much more unpredictable, so prepare for the worst (while you hope for the best).
Know when signs and symptoms require medical intervention, and mark these in your sick day plan:
- Temperature over 101 F
- Vomiting or diarrhea lasting more than six hours
- Symptoms of ketoacidosis or dehydration, like chest pain, very dry mouth and cracked lips, trouble breathing, and breath that smells fruity
- Confusion, vision problems, or weakness on one side of your body
- You don’t feel in control of your illness
Never take chances with your health when diabetes is involved. If you leave dangerous symptoms for too long, HHNS could be right around the corner, and that will make things much more complicated. If you begin to feel worse, drink a big glass of water each hour and monitor your symptoms; if that doesn’t help, call your doctor for advice on what to do next.