WISCONSIN RAPIDS – If you have diabetes, flu season should trigger a special alert for you. Diabetes can weaken your immune system, allowing the flu to become much more serious. That makes precautions against the flu particularly important for the more than 37 million Americans who are living with the disease.
World Diabetes Day (November 14) falls during flu season, and Aspirus wants people with diabetes to recognize the risk of severe illness that can come along with the flu.
People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization and sometimes even death, according to the CDC. But if your diabetes is well-managed, the risk of serious illness decreases.
“I advise my patients that obtaining or maintaining good blood sugar is one of the best things they can do to help decrease their risk,” says Gaynal Hofmeister, registered nurse and certified diabetes educator with Aspirus Riverview Diabetes & Nutrition Center in Wisconsin Rapids.
Hofmeister joins the CDC in encouraging the following precautions against the flu:
- Get a flu shot early in the fall.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If that's not possible, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Avoid getting close to people who are sick.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose. or mouth. Germs can enter your body that way.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze and throw the tissue away. Or sneeze or cough into your sleeve, near the inside of your elbow.
“If someone becomes ill, they must continue to be diligent in checking blood sugars,” says Hofmeister. “For many, insulin needs change during times of illness. Drinking adequate amounts of water is also important when ill, as dehydration can worsen hyperglycemia.”
Hofmeister also suggests the following for those who get sick:
- Continue taking your insulin and medications as directed.
- Be sure to have a 30-day supply on hand.
- If you haven’t already, consider signing up for mail delivery if applicable, or take advantage of drive-up pharmacy services to avoid larger crowds and lines.
- Communicate with your treating provider
If you have questions about managing your diabetes, be sure to contact the provider treating your diabetes. To learn more about Aspirus diabetes education services in our area, you may call Aspirus Riverview Diabetes & Nutrition Center at 715-422-9287 or the Diabetic Clinic at Aspirus Stevens Point Clinic-Illinois Avenue at 715-342-7549. For more information about diabetes care at Aspirus, visit www.aspirus.org/diabetes-care.