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A Dangerous Juggling Act

Filed Under: Sexual Health at 9:12 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
JugglerNo one wants the flu. When you are informed that your conversation-partner believes that he is coming down with something, you murmur your sympathy and back away slowly until there is a wall between you and his germs, hoping that he wasn’t offended by your hasty retreat. Getting sick would leave you bedridden for days, miserable and moaning. You can’t imagine a worse situation . . .  but there is one.

If you have diabetes, the flu isn’t just a week’s worth of illness; it is a risk of severe complications, complications that could lead to coma or death.  The likelihood that your glucose levels will rise or fall dramatically increases, and with it, the chances that ketones, a waste product created when the body uses stored fat for energy, will appear in your urine multiply. To make matters worse, when you turn to over-the-counter medications for relief, you actually further your danger by ingesting products that could affect either your insulin or blood pressure, or both. Ideally, you could prevent all of this from happening simply by preventing the flu, but we don’t live in an ideal world.

Prepare yourself for the likelihood that you will get ill. It is, after all, better safe than sorry. Create a plan with your doctor as to what you should do when the flu appears. Talk about which medications are safe or what alternatives there are to drugs. He may suggest that you purchase products that are applied directly to the problem area – a nasal spray rather than a decongestant – to lessen the risk.

If you do get the flu, remember to continue monitoring your blood sugar and ketone levels, checking for changes every four hours. Do not stop taking your insulin, and do not stop eating or drinking. The vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite can easily lead to dehydration and glucose spikes or drops. Consume about 15 grams of carbohydrates and drink one cup of fluids every hour.  If your blood sugar gets too low have a glass of juice with 15 grams of carbohydrates, half a glass of apple juice or an entire glass of milk, again every hour. And should anything unusual persist – 12 hours of present ketone levels, six or more hours of vomiting or diarrhea, a fever for more than a day or uncontrollable blood glucose levels, call your doctor. The flu is bad enough on its own.

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