How do your blood sugars react when you get sick? Let me know!
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Influenza & Type 1 Diabetes
Last week, I was very much under the weather, and I did not manage to do anything. Last week, I spent the whole week in bed, because I got a nasty case of the influenza. This never happens to me *touch wood*, I never get sick like that. So it was a first in a good while. I also got a question about this, which is today’s topic on Type 1 Thursday:
As a Type 1 diabetic, eating very low carb, what happens to blood sugars and ketones when I got that sick?
No. It didn’t go perfectly, let’s just be honest about that. I definitely did not have any smooth CGM lines during last week when I was really, really ill. And it’s not an easy feat to try to get, especially as a Type 1 diabetic, but definitely also as a healthy, “normal” person, whatever you want to call it. What did I do, how did I handle it, and what happened to me? Maybe it can help you, if the influenza gets you, too!
I heard today that just in Switzerland, we have about three virus strains going around right now. That’s a lot! I think I just had one of the influenza strains. Last Tuesday, I was so ill that I thought I had pneumonia. I was 99% sure that I had pneumonia. I went to the doctors to get an X ray, especially to check that it wasn’t pneumonia. Well, it wasn’t. But I really felt that badly. I really am not one of these people who just runs to the doctor for whatever, there has to be a legitimate cause for me to even visit a doctor’s office. That’s how bad I was last week. And I’m amazed at my body for turning something that I thought was pneumonia just a week in a bit ago to standing here. You know, I was fine already last weekend, again, and that is astonishing to me that my body managed to get turned around That will and I would like to thank my wonderful gut bacteria. And I would like to think that I did a few things right, which I will get into a little bit later in this life.
Influenza & Blood Sugar?
But first of all, I wanted to go through what happens to your blood sugar when you get ill, because it will go up. Evidently, your blood sugar will go up, especially if you’re a Type 1 diabetic, because you are, of course a little bit more (I don’t like to say it, but), a little bit more sensitive towards infections that way. Blood sugar goes up, for sure. And what can you do against that? Well, you can actually just manage as well as you can. Increase your basal as much as you dare to until you see an effect. With that in mind, I was on + 200% basal on my insulin pump, and it barely budged from 10-11 mmol/l, around the 200’s mg/dl. That was of course scary for me, as I normally have quite good blood sugars. It was good to to know that it was the infection causing it and nothing that I ate, because I also fasted due to that I had such a sore throat and I was coughing so much that I couldn’t eat anything for four days. I only had broth, tea, soups and water for four days. And I think that also helped to turn the influenza around a little bit quicker.
In addition to this, your bolus is not going to be the same as when you’re not sick. Your corrections and mealtime insulin is not going to be as effective, that ratio will also go up, get worse, and you will need more insulin. I used almost 50 units of insulin in one of the days that when I was the sickest, and that I haven’t done since eating high carb, so it was quite bad.
Remember to hydrate because both having influenza and having that high blood sugars will dehydrate your body. So think about hydrating a lot the whole time, sip small sips even if you have the worst throat ache in the world (like I did!) Also consider adding electrolytes, because that can be something that could help you.
Influenza & Ketones?
What happened to my ketones? Normally my ketones are under 2.5 mmol/l on a very low carb way of eating. And this seems to be a normal thing for me. As soon as they go over I get a little nervous. As ketones are never really a goal for me, I don’t really measure them too often, but when I do, they seem to be staying under the 2.5 mark. Because I was fasting, liquid fasting, and because I was sick, my body needed more energy, and because my blood sugar was maybe a little bit high, and my ketones went up to 4.3 mmol/l.
This was actually nothing that worried me at this point, though, because I didn’t feel worse (I already felt like absolute shit…) But the ketones didn’t actually worry me any extra, because I knew I was doing everything that I could for them to do their job. I just chose to monitor them and as long as they didn’t go higher, didn’t have a panic attack about it, and I didn’t worry about it. My theory is that both blood sugar and ketones go higher, because your body needs more energy to get well again, the immune system needs more energy to kick the nasty bugs that you are fighting. I don’t know, maybe the this is not even true, but if you do know why blood sugar goes up when you are ill, and also ketones, please let me know in a comment! I’d be really interested to know from someone who really knows their stuff.
How do you treat a really bad influenza, especially as Type 1 diabetic (but also as a normal person)? I would say hydration is definitely the number 1 thing! Your body can survive without food and might actually get healthier quicker without food. But hydration – we need to hydrate a lot. So make sure you flush out those nasty bugs and the high blood sugar. Make sure you hydrate when you get sick!
Also painkillers, I cannot tell you… I don’t normally take painkillers at all. But last week, they were a Godsend. And I had water soluble ones so I didn’t have to swallow any tablets. Absolutely amazing, saved my life.
Throat lozenges with that numbing effect also really helped me to get through the influenza. Along with echinaea, I have a specific one in a alcohol solution that really helps your immune system to get into a higher gear. To sip, I had my beautiful, beloved “throat coat” tea, which I love when I am sick, because it really feels like your throat gets a coat! Also CBD oil, because it is anti inflammatory, and can help with all the mucous-y stuff going on in your face.
So that’s what happened to me last week, I got sick, blood sugar up, ketones up, but I was not worried because I knew my body was just doing its job in trying to make me healthier.
How do you react with your blood sugars when you get sick? And please let me know in a comment somewhere on the inter-webs and I’ll be happy to chat with you there.
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