Many patients with type 2 diabetes may not realize that they are at increased risk for serious complications from the flu virus. It is for this reason that patients with diabetes are strongly encouraged to have the flu vaccine every year as soon as it is available.
Influenza is a viral infection that causes respiratory illness in people of all ages. This condition is characterized by the sudden onset of fevers, aches, headache and cough. Patients with diabetes are at an increased risk for complications such as pneumonia, difficulty breathing, confusion and death. Patients with diabetes are also at increased risk for dehydration and hyperglycemia when they have the flu.
Patients with diabetes should take precautions to avoid getting the flu. Tips for how to avoid the flu include:
- Vaccination: Patients with diabetes should get the flu vaccine in September, well before the onset of flu season
- Frequent hand washing: This reduces the transmission of germs from other people and from objects that have the virus on them.
- Good sugar control: Patients should strive to keep their glucose in the normal blood sugar range to reduce the risk of complications from flu if they should get the virus.
- Avoiding sick contacts: Diabetic patients should keep distance from ill friends and family
- Prophylaxis: Diabetic patients who are exposed to confirmed cases of flu should contact their doctor to discuss starting a preventative medication after exposure to flu.
- Vaccination of Family: Family and caregivers for diabetic patients should strongly consider getting the flu vaccine to reduce the risk of bringing this virus into the household of a diabetic patient.
Influenza carries serious risk for hospitalization and death in patients with chronic health conditions like diabetes. For this reason, people with diabetes should take special care to avoid situations where they can be exposed and they should get the vaccine every year. Prevention of the flu is the easiest way to avoid serious complications from this dangerous virus!