Diabetes patients with influenza (flu) face very serious health risks like ketoacidosis and HHS

Diabetes patients with influenza (flu) face very serious health risks like ketoacidosis and HHSDiabetes patients with influenza (flu) face very serious health risks like ketoacidosis, pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infection, ear infections, and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that even when diabetes is well managed complications can still arise from influenza. Furthermore, having the flu can worsen diabetes outcomes. This is a result of diabetes weakening the immune system, thus making the body less able to fight off infections, which can also make it far more difficult to control blood sugar levels as well.

Symptoms of the flu can include severe aches and pains of the joints, aching muscles, aching around the eyes, fever, flushed skin, headache, dry cough, sore throat, and discharge from the nose.

Diabetes and flu medication


The vaccination is approved for diabetics as a means to prevent the flu. There is a precaution regarding the nasal spray flu vaccine for diabetics, as there are some safety concerns and other high risk conditions associated with it.

Additionally, diabetics are at a higher risk of pneumonia with the flu, so being vaccinated for pneumonia can help reduce this risk as well.

Diabetics can also safely take over-the-counter flu medication, but it’s still important to speak to your doctor as some of these medications are more suited for some diabetics compared to others.

Diabetes influenza (flu) complications

Influenza in diabetes can lead to chest infections like pneumonia. Rare complications of the flu include tonsillitis, meningitis, and encephalitis.

The flu is responsible for 600 deaths annually. Depending on other factors like age and chronic conditions, the flu can be a deadly illness for some.

For diabetics especially, the flu can take a toll on blood sugar levels. If you are diabetic and contract the flu, it is advised that you check your sugar levels more often as flu symptoms can mask symptoms related to blood sugar levels. A diabetic complication of the flu is either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia in which sugar levels fall too low or rise too high, respectively.

Diabetes and the flu: Management and prevention tips

Diabetes is one of the most challenging diseases in the 21st century, according to the World Health Organization. Effectively managing diabetes is possible with healthy lifestyle choices, including eating well, losing weight, exercising regularly, and controlling stress. Furthermore, there are medications that your doctor can prescribe in order to better manage diabetes.

The best and most effective way to prevent influenza is by getting the annual flu shot. Other prevention tips to reduce your risk of the flu are washing your hands, avoiding those who are sick, not sharing personal items and food, and staying away from others if you are sick.

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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.