Diabetics Should Have Flu Jab – It Could Save Their Lives

No one wants the flu; the shivering, nausea, aching, high temperature, sore throat and other unpleasant symptoms can make life a misery for a week or longer.  However, for diabetics the illness others see as a nuisance could be fatal, even if their disease is well managed.  As the occurrence of flu rises with the fall all diabetics should make plans to have the vaccination that could spare them serious illness and a hospital stay.

Diabetics, whether type 1 or 2, are at bigger risk of catching the flu because their immune systems are compromised by their condition.  They will not be able to fight off the infection as well as a non-diabetic person.  In addition, if they catch the virus, they are more likely to be in trouble than a healthy person is likely to be because of the way the illness can throw their management of their blood sugar out of the window.  People suffering from the flu do not feel like eating, which makes keeping to their healthy diet and medication regime very difficult, even if they are alert and not made groggy and unable to cope by the flu.  Actually being sick can raise blood sugar levels.

Flu vaccines have been with us for many years, and are changed regularly because of the way the flu viruses mutate.  The 2011 vaccine protects against theCalifornia, Perth, andBrisbaneflu viruses, which are the strains of flu likely to be around this winter.  If other strains arrive as well, the vaccine will still give some protection against them.  Even if a vaccinated person does catch the flu, he or she will have a very much less serious version and will recover more quickly.

Diabetics are among the list of at risk people who should be vaccinated every year, including the very young and very old, those with chest complaints such as asthma, and those with chronic illnesses, which could put them at risk if they caught the flu.  Diabetics are also at higher risk of pneumonia from the flu, so should also have a pneumonia vaccine.

In 2009, one in four out of every diabetic person who caught the flu and had to be hospitalized ended up in intensive care.  Having the vaccination before the flu season starts in late fall and winter is important and could lower the number of diabetics who become seriously ill and even die with this nasty virus.  It could lower the number who ends up in hospital or even in intensive care.  The vaccine is safe for diabetics, although they should not be given the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine.

If you do catch the flu, try to drink more fluids – sugar free drinks only – and keep to your medication routine.  Try to eat as normally as possible and test your blood sugar levels as you would normally.  Make sure you see your doctor as soon as you can and call him if you have any concerns.  Try to weigh yourself, as sudden weight loss is a danger signal.  As with many aspects of diabetes, planning is an important part of the lifestyle, and vaccination should be part of the plan.

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