Managing illness with Diabetes

With the Coronavirus or COVID-19 dominating the headlines it’s hard to ignore some of the panic being Diabetic and therefore in the ‘higher risk’ category.

Am I personally panicking? Hmmm not yet. For now life goes on as normal, pretty much. I’m still taking my son to nursery, I’m still going to the gym and I’m still seeing friends. However I guess I am making some different choices to try and limit contact with large groups of people. I’m doing my food shopping online, which I normally do anyway but now I’m trying to get it all done online rather than having to pop into supermarkets to do little top ups. I would probably turn down an invite to the cinema at the moment or anywhere else which would put me in close proximity to lots of people. Yes I am currently still going to the gym but I’m going at times that I know will be quieter, plus my gym has put extra hygiene measures in place to try and reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Yes I am washing my hands, however, I would like to point out that I have always washed my hands! Plus, especially since becoming a Mum, I’ve always carried hand gel with me.

Obviously if you do become unwell and think you may have contracted the virus the advice is to stay at home and call 111 for advice on what to do next.

For the official, most up-to-date information and advice please visit –

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Also for NHS guidance go to –

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

I’m sure if you have Diabetes you are well aware of the impact that just a standard cold can have on your blood sugar levels so I wanted to talk about how I personally try to manage it when I’m ill. Life doesn’t stop when you are poorly so it’s so important that we take extra care of ourselves to stop things escalating and we are back on form as quickly as possible.

Check your blood sugars more regularly

Might sound obvious but you really need to keep a close eye on your what your blood sugars are doing when you are feeling unwell. There are so many variables affecting your blood sugar at the best of times, throw into the mix any kind of bug or infection and they become increasingly unpredictable.

Don’t assume they will just rise

So the textbook result of being unwell is that your blood sugars rise and you need to increase your insulin. In my personal experience that isn’t always the case. There’s often been times where I’ve been unwell and my blood sugars actually just become very erratic and I’ve had just as many unexpected hypos as I have highs. So don’t automatically think you need to start upping your insulin just because you feel unwell. Monitor is closely and see what it’s doing first.

Stay Hydrated

Its really important to stay hydrated anyway but especially when you are unwell as it’s easier to become dehydrated. You may think it’s just sickness and diarrhoea that can lead to dehydration but you are also loosing fluid with colds as your body produces mucus. Staying hydrated will help if your blood sugars are rising, it helps loosen up mucus in your nose, head and chest. So even if you don’t feel like eating very much, make sure you keep drinking.

Try to get enough rest

By resting it’s going to help your body recover but again you need to be aware that if you are normally nice and active then the lack of activity will likely have an effect on your blood sugars and you may find that they start rising. Again another reason it’s really important to keep a closer eye on those levels as it’s not just that your body is trying to fight something off but also your change of routine that will affect them.

Eat good, nutritious food

Sometimes it’s really hard to eat well, especially as cold’s can really affect your sense of smell and taste but it’s so important to try and get some nutritious food into you. I think sometimes the urge to eat a sea of beige like bread, pasta, cheese becomes stronger when we are feeling low. I don’t mean hypo low I mean miserable because we are unwell but you really need to get those vitamins and minerals into you to help your body recover so lots of fruit and veg is going to aid your recovery.

If you feel well enough to be a bit active then do it

So as much as I said rest is really important, which it is, this doesn’t mean you need to hibernate in bed or on the sofa in order to get better. If you feel well enough to be up and about or even to go for a little walk then the activity is going to help regulate your blood sugars so go for it.

Make sure somebody knows you are unwell

This is really important especially if you live on your own. What may seem like a common cold can soon cause other complications if your blood sugar levels do get out of hand so make sure somebody knows you aren’t 100% so they can check how you are doing.

Don’t rush back to exercising

Believe me, if you enjoy being active I totally get how frustrating it can be. I had a cold a few weeks ago and I was feeling so frustrated as I was desperate to get in the gym and feel like I’ve worked hard but I know it’s counterproductive. For one thing I just know if I had tried to work out, I’d likely have an embarrassing coughing fit as soon as I tried to warm up, I would feel frustrated by my lack of strength, I couldn’t even try to guess what my blood sugars would do and I’d just be putting unnecessary stress on my body when its already working so hard to fight off a cold. All I would actually successfully achieve is my cold lasting even longer so it honestly isn’t worth it. Wait until you are feeling 100% and your blood sugars are in good range then you can get back to your favourite exercise.

Talk to your diabetes nurse or consultant

If your blood sugars really aren’t co-operating then seek professional advice. Speak to your diabetes nurse or consultant. If you have a freestyle libre its really easy to share the data with them and there’s lots of finger prick monitors now that you can download your readings from but if in doubt make sure you go old school and write down your blood sugar readings. The more information that you can give your health professional the easier it will be for them to help you. It might be a simple case of them making some adjustments to your insulin doses just while you are ill but they know what they are talking about so make the most of their expertise.

Ok so obviously I’m hoping that everyone is super well and healthy at the moment but next time you do get a cold or something I really hope that advice comes in useful.

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