Why the Flu Shot is Important for People with Diabetes
People with diabetes are about three times more likely to die from flu and pneumonia. Flu is dangerous for everyone, but is more risky for people with a chronic disease. Receiving a flu shot does not guarantee you won’t catch the flu but will greatly reduce your risk.
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 hinders your white blood cells’ ability to fight infections.
The best time to get the shot begins in September. It takes about two weeks to take effect. The flu shot does not give you the virus. Common side effects from the shot include soreness and redness at the 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 have severe symptoms already, 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, sometimes even nausea and vomiting, follow your diabetic sick-day instructions provided by your healthcare provider.
Generally, drink plenty of non-carbohydrate fluids, choose diabetic-friendly cold medicine, take medications as prescribed, check your blood sugar more frequently , and call your healthcare provider if your blood sugar remains consistently high.
Practice Good Hand Hygiene
Even after taking the flu shot, you still need to follow good hand hygiene to protect yourself from illness. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before eating and after using the restroom. Use hand sanitizer or wash after coming 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 Guillian-Barre syndrome within 6 weeks of getting the flu shot in the past, talk with your doctor before making the decision to get vaccinated. Also, 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.
Get your flu shot at Ochsner. Learn how to schedule one today.