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Sick Days & Surgery

Important Information

  • Vomiting or extreme nausea which prevents eating, are considered emergencies.  Call the diabetes team right away.
  • NEVER stop insulin.  Even if vomiting is present, some insulin must still be given – just not the usual amount.
  • During “sick days” check the BG and ketones levels every few hours.

General Information

Diabetes management can become more complicated during an illness.  In general, the blood sugar levels can go up during an illness such as a cold, the flu or strep throat.  With stomach illnesses or food poisoning that causes nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, blood sugar levels might drop because you/your child are not eating or your stomach and intestines are not able to absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat.

When we talk about “sick days” we are generally referring to an illness serious enough that you/your child has to stay home from school because of the illness.  A mild cold, cough or headache does not usually warrant following “sick day” guidelines.

Illness is a time when the body is under a lot of stress and needs extra amounts of energy.  If your body cannot get the energy from food or sugar, it will quickly start burning body fat.  As noted before, burning body fat for energy leads to the development of ketones.  Ketones can build up in the blood stream to high enough levels that they make the blood too acidic and body organs cannot function well.  This is called Diabetic Ketoacidosis and is a life-threatening diabetes emergency.

Even when someone with diabetes is sick and not eating, their body still needs insulin .  Having enough insulin in the body can help prevent the switch from using sugar for energy to using body fat for energy

It is very important to check for ketones when you/your child does not feel well.

Tips for Surving Sick Days

Use these important tips when sick to help manage your diabetes.