fever sick COVID
Adobe Stock

Diabetes Sick Day Rules: What to Eat, Drink & Do, According to an Expert

Balancing your blood sugar and reducing the risk of health issues can be a challenge for people with diabetes when a cold or the flu strikes.

Find out what to eat and drink when you’re sick, how to take care of yourself and how to put together a diabetes sick day plan -- including when to call your doctor.

1. What to eat

Adobe Stock

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests people with diabetes eat about 50 grams of carbohydrates every four hours when they're sick to keep blood sugar from dipping too low.

Soup and broth can help fulfill both your liquid and carb requirements.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says it can be helpful to follow the 15-15 rule: Eat 15 grams of carbs, then check your blood sugar 15 minutes after that.

2. What to drink

drinking water in a plastic bottle

Adobe Stock

University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) Medicine says it's important to pay attention to your fluid intake, because dehydration can raise blood sugar levels.

If you’re having trouble keeping enough water down to avoid dehydration, tea or gingerade may settle your stomach.

3. Self-care tips

diabetes tools
Adobe Stock

Besides staying hydrated, it's important to get plenty of rest and monitor your glucose often, Diana Isaacs, an endocrine clinical pharmacy specialist at the Cleveland Clinic's Endocrinology & Metabolism Institute, advised.

“Wearing a continuous glucose monitor [CGM] can make it easier to monitor glucose and can alert for high or low levels," she said. "If not using a CGM, it’s recommended to check glucose with finger sticks at least every three to four hours.”

4. When to call your doctor

Asian woman patient doctor senior
Adobe Stock

To protect yourself from DKA, call your doctor if you have moderate or high ketones or glucose levels over 300mg/dL for several hours that don't come down even with additional insulin, Isaacs advised.

5. Source and more information

Adobe Stock