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Diabetes and sick day management

Diabetes is a chronic, yet manageable disease. Data from the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014 (released June 10, 2014) ( states that approximately 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, and another 86 million American have prediabetes.

Although diabetes is not “curable”, the chronic condition can be controlled/ maintained with proper education, knowledgeable food and activity choices, and comprehensive health care ( daily testing, annual health examinations, preventive healthcare practice are a few examples).

In the event that a person with diabetes (PWD) becomes sick, there are guidelines to ensure that early treatment and monitoring will most likely prevent complications from occurring. Often, a person with diabetes can monitor themselves at home, and avoid a hospital visit. Preplanning for a possible sick day, as with preplanning for daily life, affords one the best possible outcome.

The following are guidelines for the management of a “sick day” for a person with diabetes. They are generic and provide a basic foundation for self-care. As with any illness, everyone is encouraged to seek medical attention if there is any doubt that self-management is not effective. In addition, people with diabetes, in addition to other chronic medical conditions, are advised to keep in contact with their healthcare provider, during a sick day, to get additional medical guidance and support.

Illness as well as infection can affect your blood sugar. Thus, it is advised to check your blood sugar levels every 4 hours. By doing so, you can track/trend your levels, and make sure you are able to keep them within control. If you check your urine for ketones, a “moderate” amount is an indication to seek professional medical help. The presence of ketones indicate your body may be utilizing fat as fuel, which is putting you at risk for diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life threatening illness. You should check your temperature regularly, to make sure you do not develop a fever (another indication of an underlying infection). Most importantly, stay hydrated and well nourished. Keep track of your fluid intake and carbohydrate intake, so as to avoid dehydration and hypoglycemia (a low blood sugar).

Finally, a recommendation on when to seek medical help. An uncontrolled fever or blood glucose level, as well as vomiting, or diarrhea, are all reasons to contact your physician. You are most likely not able to take your medications or food properly, and are at higher risk for complications. Medical intervention is needed to avoid complications.

For more information on general diabetic good health practices, check with your local chapter of the American Diabetes Association @

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