What to do if you are sick

When you are sick, your blood glucose levels may be higher than normal and hyperglycemia may occur if your blood glucose level is above 13.3mmol/L (240mg/dL). Over-the-counter and prescription medications can also increase your blood glucose level.

What to do...

  • Take your diabetes medication at your usual times
  • Monitor your blood glucose level more frequently and aim for a level between 4-8mmol/L (72-144mg/dL)
  • Monitor your ketones every 2-4 hours or when your blood glucose level is 16.7mmol/L (300mg/dL) or greater
  • Eat 10-15 grams of carbohydrate every 1 to 2 hours
  • Drink lots of water, clear soup, broth, or tea
  • Don't eat if your blood glucose is greater than 10mmol/L (180mg/dL); test again in one hour
  • Call your doctor if you:
    • vomit more than once in 4 hours
    • are unable to eat or drink anything for 4 hours
    • are sick for more than 24 hours
    • have questions or concerns
    • your ketones are above 1.5 mmol/L

What to eat...

Eat ONE of the following, every 1 to 2 hours...

  • Half a regular serving of rolled oats or oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup grape juice
  • 1/2 popsicle
  • 1/4 regular jello
  • 1/4 cup sherbet
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 slice dry toast
  • 1/2 English muffin of bagel
  • 1 slice dry toast
  • 1 cup canned tomatoe soup
  • 3 stoned wheat thins
  • 4 slices Melba toast
  • 6 soda crackers
  • 3 Arrowroot biscuits
  • 3 Graham crackers
  • 4 social tea cookies
  • 2 digestive cookies
  • 2 oatmeal cookies
  • 7 Ritz crackers
  • 3 cups plain popcorn

Which medications...

The following are general guidelines. Talk to your doctor, healthcare professional, or pharmacist about which specific over-the-counter medication they recommend for your condition.

  • Allergies & runny nose: use antihistamines
  • Constipation: use a high-fiber laxative; for example, psyllium-based such as suger-free Metamucil
  • Cough: use suger-free products; dry hacking, use dextromethorphan; wet cough, use an expectorant
  • Cuts & scrapes: clean with mild soap and water; use Polysporin or Ozonol antibiotic ointments
  • Diarrhea: use Imodium capsules; if blood or fever present or it lasts more than 2 days, contact doctor
  • Foot problems: see your MD or a podiatrist (never cut them off yourself or use medicated wart, corn, or callous pads)
  • Headache & fever: use small amounts of ASA , Acetaminophen, or Ibuprofen
  • Heartburn & indigestion: use suger-free antacids or low-dose forms of Tagamet, Zantec, or Axid
  • Nausea & vomiting: for mild cases, use Gravol or Traveltabs (dimenhydrinate); otherwise contact doctor
  • Prevention: consider taking the Pneumococcus vaccine and a yearly Flu shot
  • Skin problems: always use an SPF15 sun screen and an urea-based moisturizer for dry skin
  • Sore throat: suck an ice cube or gargle with salt water; if still sore after 3 days, contact doctor
  • Stuffiness: avoid decongestants, use Vicks Vaporub or Dristan or Otravin nasal sprays

Updated: March 12, 2003