Diabetes: Sick-Day Plan

Infections, the flu, and even a cold, can cause your blood sugar to rise. And, eating less, nausea, and vomiting may cause your blood glucose to fall (hypoglycemia). Ask your healthcare provider to help you develop a sick-day plan. The following information can help.

Woman sitting in bed with a cup of soup.


Don’ts include the following:

  • Diabetes medicines. Don’t stop taking your diabetes medicine.

  • Other medicines. Don’t take other medicines, such as those for colds or the flu, without checking with your healthcare provider.


Do’s include the following:

  • Eating. Stick to your meal plan. If you can’t eat, try fruit juice, regular gelatin, or frozen juice bars as directed by your healthcare provider.

  • Drinking. Drink at least 1 glass of liquid every hour. If you’re eating, these liquids should be sugar-free.

  • Blood glucose. Check your blood sugar as often as directed by your healthcare provider. You may need to check it more often than usual.

  • Ketones. Check your blood or urine for ketones. Ketones are the waste from burning fat instead of glucose for energy. Ketones are a warning sign of ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is a medical emergency. Ketoacidosis can happen to anyone with diabetes, but it’s very rare in type 2 diabetes. It is usually only an issue if you have type 1 diabetes.

  • Diabetes medicines.

    • Adjust your insulin according to your sick-day plan. Don’t skip insulin. You need insulin even if you can’t eat your normal meals.

    • If you take pills for diabetes (oral medicines), take your normal dose unless your healthcare provider tells you something different.

  • Sugar-free medicines. Look for sugar-free cough drops and other medicines. Ask your healthcare provider if it’s OK for you to take these.

  • Getting help. If you’re alone, ask someone to check on you several times a day.

Try to get all these supplies together before you need them.

Call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:

  • You vomit or have diarrhea for more than 6 hours.

  • Your blood glucose level is higher than usual or more than 250 mg/dL after you have taken extra insulin (if recommended in your sick-day plan).

  • You take oral medicine for diabetes, and your blood sugar is higher than usual or over 250 mg/dL, before a meal and stays that high for more than 24 hours.

  • Your blood glucose is lower than usual or less than 70 mg/dL

  • You have moderate to large amounts of ketones in your blood or urine.

  • You aren’t better after 2 days.


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