Managing sick days

Published 22 June, 2016

Why do sick days matter?

Being diabetic doesn’t mean you’re more likely to get sick. But being unwell if you have diabetes can make it harder to control your blood sugar levels. So there are a few extra things to remember.

Even if you’re eating less than you normally would, your blood sugars can become very high which can be dangerous. If you have a blood glucose monitor at home it’s a good idea to check your blood sugar levels every 2-3 hours.

If you don’t feel like eating, do you still need to take your medication?

It’s important to try and stick to your normal eating routine, but this can be quite hard if you’re not feeling your best. If you do find yourself eating less, it’s important that you continue to take your medications as usual as being unwell can make your blood glucose rise. Sometimes you may even need to increase your medication, but you GP will tell you to do this if necessary.

It’s also important to pay attention to how much you’re drinking. You don’t want to become dehydrated, so it’s important to drink plenty of unsweetened fluids such as water.

When should you speak to your doctor?

You should contact your GP or specialist nurse if you:

  • Are unable to take your diabetes medications for any reason
  • Your blood sugar readings are consistently very high (over 13.3 mmol/L) or very low (under 4.0 mmol/L)
  • You are experiencing vomiting or diarrhea

You will usually have a pre-agreed, personal sick day plan with your GP. If you don’t have one or you’re not sure then contact your GP to clarify this.

Top tips for dealing with sick days

  1. Up your fluid intake​
    It is important to drink 4 to 6 pints of fluid a day when you’re not feeling well. Remember this doesn’t just have to be water. It can include soup, fruit juices, energy drinks and even popsicles.
  2. Make a sick day rescue pack
    It’s important to have adequate food intake, even if you don’t feel like eating. A good way to help with this it to keep some sick day snacks handy. Try to choose snacks which have a carbohydrate content of about 15 grams. Your pack should include some sugary drinks, pain killers and extra test strips (if you have an at home glucose monitor).
  3. Keep your sick day plan on hand
    Your sick day plan is individual to you and will give you clear instructions on what to do if you feel unwell. Keep it in a safe place – you won’t want to be searching the house for it if you’re not feeling very well. Also, remember that it’s OK to call your GP practice and ask questions if you’re unsure about anything.
  4. Be prepared
    You can also lower the change of getting unwell with flu with a flu vaccination. Ask your GP about this as flu jabs are free if you have diabetes.

More information can be found on Diabetes UK

Diabetes and Coronavirus:

As of 17/03/2021

People with diabetes are not more likely to catch coronavirus than someone who does not have diabetes and the majority of people who develop coronavirus will have mild symptoms and will not need to go to hospital.

There are however some groups that are at an increased risk of developing a severe illness from COVID-19, and this is true for diabetes.

Remember to:

- Wash your hands often, for 20 seconds

- Wear a face covering*

- Stay 2m away from people outside your household*

*please follow current government guidelines.

Read more about Coronavirus and Diabetes and get all the updates on the COVID-19 specific webpage provided by Diabetes UK.