What to do if you are sick ( achoo!)
STAY ON TOP OF YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
When you’re sick, your body produces stress hormones that make it harder for your body to regulate insulin, says Marvin Lipman, M.D., an endocrinologist in Scarsdale, New York, and former chief medical advisor for Consumer Reports. So be sure to test your blood sugar regularly (generally every two to four hours, but check with your doctor) to make sure it stays as close to normal as possible. If it’s rising, your doctor may want you to take a higher dose of your diabetes medication or increase your insulin dose, if you take insulin. If you have type 1 diabetes, check your urine two to three times a day for ketones. And weigh yourself daily: if your weight drops more than a couple pounds, you may be dehydrated and your blood glucose levels could be getting out of control.
BE CAREFUL WITH MEDICINES
Some over-the-counter cold and flu medications aren’t safe to take if you have diabetes.
For example, decongestants act like the stress hormone adrenaline on your body, dumping sugar into your bloodstream that can raise your blood sugar levels, explains Lipman. Safe medications include saline nasal sprays, the pain reliever acetaminophen, cough suppressants, such as dextromethorphan, or cough expectorants like guaifenesin. If you’re using cough syrups or lozenges, look for ones labeled “sugar free.”
EAT AND DRINK THE RIGHT THINGS
You may not feel hungry when you’re sick, but it’s still important to take in some nutrients, since your body needs fuel and fluids to help you recover. It also helps prevent you from getting dehydrated, which can raise blood sugar. If you feel too crummy to eat your regular diet, try soft foods and liquids instead. Foods that contain 15 grams of carbs (1 carb serving) include ½ cup fruit juice, ½ cup regular Jell-O, six saltine crackers, ½ cup applesauce, and 1⁄3 cup noodles or rice. Try to drink 4 to 6 ounces of calorie-free liquid an hour. Options include water, unsweetened tea, and low-sodium chicken broth ( see page
34 for our favorite broths).