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Thinkstockphotos 457677795 Flu Shot

Why the Flu Shot is Important for People with Diabetes

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Flu can be dangerous for everyone but is riskier for people with certain chronic diseases, including diabetes. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing serious flu complications like pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections

The American Diabetes Association generally recommends all people with diabetes get a flu shot every year. Having diabetes means having more instances of high blood glucose, or blood sugar, than a person without diabetes. High blood glucose makes it harder for your white blood cells to fight infections.

Receiving a flu shot does not guarantee you won’t catch the flu, but it will greatly reduce your risk. People who live with you or care for you should also consider getting the flu shot to reduce their risk, and yours, of getting sick.

The best time to get the shot begins in September, and it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect.

The flu shot does not give you the virus. Common side effects from the shot include soreness and redness at the injection site as well as low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches.

Keep Your Immune System Strong

Diabetes is a chronic disease that can compromise the immune system (your body’s defense against infections). The flu shot helps your immune system protect you from the influenza virus. If you already have severe cold or flu-like symptoms, it is best to wait until you have recovered before getting the flu shot.

Check Your Glucose Levels

If you have symptoms of flu — such as fever, chills, body aches, cough, sore throat, and sometimes even nausea and vomiting — follow your diabetes sick-day instructions provided by your healthcare provider.

Generally, drink plenty of non-carbohydrate fluids, choose diabetes-friendly cold and flu medicine, take prescription medications as prescribed, and check your blood sugar more frequently. Call your healthcare provider if your blood sugar remains consistently high or low or if have frequent diarrhea or vomiting.

Practice Good Hand Hygiene

After you get the flu shot, it is still important to follow good hand hygiene to protect yourself from illness.

Wash your hands with soap and warm water before eating, after using the restroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after you come in contact with people who have cold-like symptoms. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, as germs spread easily through those routes.

Talk with Your Doctor about Flu Shot Questions

If you have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs or have a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome (a rare condition in which your immune system attacks the peripheral nerves), talk with your doctor before deciding to get vaccinated.

An egg allergy does not prevent you from getting the flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who have experienced only hives after exposure to eggs can get any licensed flu vaccine that is otherwise appropriate for their age and health. People who have symptoms other than hives after exposure to eggs can also get any age- and health-appropriate licensed flu vaccine, though it should be given in a medical setting and supervised by a healthcare provider who can recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.

Ochsner will offer an egg-free flu vaccine for those with egg allergies.

If you are on immunosuppressant medication, it is recommended to get the vaccine, though the effectiveness of the vaccine can vary from patient to patient.

If you have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, the Ochsner Digital Medicine program can help you control your condition and prevent further complications of diabetes. As a member of the program, you’ll have the support of a professional health coach and licensed clinician, who will encourage you to stay up to date with annual shots and screenings, manage your medications and provide lifestyle support. Easy digital tools allow you to take care of yourself at home—limiting extra trips to the clinic.

You can enroll in the Ochsner Digital Medicine program here.

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