Flu and People with Diabetes
Increased Risk from Flu
People with diabetes (type 1 and 2), even when well-managed, are at increased risk of severe disease and complications, like hospitalization and even death, as a result of getting the flu. This is because diabetes can make the immune system less able to fight severe influenza disease. In addition, illness can raise your blood sugar level. Also, sometimes people don’t feel like eating when they are sick, and this can cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall.
Vaccination is the Best Protection against Flu
CDC recommends that people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, who are 6 months and older, get a flu shot. (The nasal spray vaccine should not be given to people with diabetes.)
People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of developing pneumonia from the flu, therefore a pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine is also recommended for them. A pneumonia vaccine should be part of a diabetes management plan.
There are prescription medications called “antiviral drugs” that can be used to treat influenza illness. Antiviral drugs fight influenza viruses in your body. They are different than antibiotics, which fight against bacterial infections. Antiviral medications may help people with conditions that increase the risk of complications from flu (like diabetes) if given within the first 48 hours.
Other Preventive Actions
In addition to getting vaccinated yearly, people with diabetes should take everyday precautions for protecting against the flu.