Keep Your Notebook Handy

No matter what kind of diabetes you have, measure your blood glucose and urine ketones more often than usual. If you have type 1 diabetes, you may need to measure blood glucose and urine ketones every four hours. Measuring ketones is very important because these waste products are more likely to build up when you are sick and lead to ketoacidosis.

If you have type 2 diabetes, checking blood glucose four times a day may be enough. You might only need to measure ketones if your blood glucose is higher than 300. If you do not have a meter, talk to your diabetes educator about getting one.

Diabetes Medications

When sick, you will still need to continue medications for your diabetes. Even if you are throwing up, don’t stop your medications. You need them because your body makes extra glucose (sugar) when you are sick.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you may have to take extra insulin to bring down the higher blood glucose levels. If you have type 2 diabetes, you may be able to take your pills, or you may need to use insulin for a short time. In either case, work with your doctor to develop your sick-day plan.

Medications to Watch Out For

You may want to take extra medications when you are sick. For example, if you have a cold, you may want to take a cough medicine.

Always check the label of over-the-counter medicines before you buy them to see if they have sugar. Small doses of medicines with sugar are usually okay. But to be on the safe side, ask the pharmacist or your team about sugar-free medicines.

Many medications you take for short-term illnesses can affect your blood glucose levels, even if they don’t contain sugar. For example, aspirin in large doses can lower blood glucose levels. Some antibiotics lower blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes who take diabetes pills. Decongestants and some products for treating colds raise blood glucose levels.

If you must go to the emergency room or see a different doctor than usual, be sure to say you have diabetes, or have your identification bracelet in plain view. List all the medications that you are taking.

Your blood glucose level can also be affected by medications you take for chronic or long-term conditions.

How to correctly manage medication intake

Medication non-compliance is the failure to take drugs on time in the dosages prescribed. It’s a common problem. According to an April 2011 Mayo Clinic Proceedings article, only about half of those who are prescribed medication take it exactly as prescribed.

There are many reasons you might not take your medication as prescribed. They include not understanding medical terms, not being involved in the medical decision making, poor communication on the part of your health care provider, your doctor having an incomplete medical history, limited finances or access to health care, complex medication regimens, cultural barriers, memory issues, health beliefs or misconceptions and many others. It’s a complex issue with no single solution.

So then what can be done? What can you do?

First, ask questions. You have the right to understand your own medical program. Consider inviting a family member or friend to your appointments in order to assist with understanding instructions.

A lot people tend to forget to take their medication. Taking medication is a behavior, and all behaviors can be changed, although change isn’t always easy. Consider tools designed to help — such as medication organizers, dispensers, pill box timers, alarms and written schedules or calendars.