Why is it so much harder to control my blood glucose when I am sick?

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Stress is an amazing component of life. There is stress from everyday life events, which is considered a mental form of stress. Then, there is stress from a physical illness. Both forms of stress can increase your blood sugar levels. As an easy rule to remember, whenever you are mentally or physically stressed, take your blood sugar at least every four hours. Call your healthcare provider with any concerns your may have. Taking charge of your life is a key to a healthy and happy one!

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When you have diabetes and you’re sick, your body is also stressed. To deal with this stress, your body releases hormones that help you fight the illness. But these hormones also counteract the effect of insulin in lowering blood glucose and cause blood glucose levels to go up. Sickness can cause your diabetes to go out of control. Extremely high blood glucose levels caused by illness can also lead to diabetic ketoacidosis in people with type 1 diabetes, so you may need to test your urine for ketones.  In people with type 2 diabetes illness can lead to hyperosmolar hyperglycemic syndrome (HHS).
Blood glucose monitoring is especially important during any bout of sickness. Even if you have type 2 diabetes and only monitor once a day, you may want to keep a closer check during times of illness. Be sure to talk to your health care team before you get ill about what you should do in the event of illness. You and your health care team can work together to come up with a plan to help you handle common illnesses such as colds or the flu.

Continue Learning about Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.