Being sick can really affect your blood sugars. It is important that you are prepared and aware of what to do incase you become sick. Be prepared by having an “emergency sick kit”, because when you do fall sick, you will probably not be able to get to the store to get the things you need. Know that your blood sugars can go high even when you are not eating, so make sure you are testing them several times a day.

What to keep in your emergency kit

  • Meal replacement beverages (Glucerna®, Diabetic Resource®)
  • Applesauce
  • Juice boxes
  • Gingerale
  • Regular Jell-O®
  • Instant hot cereal packages
  • Low-fat crackers
  • Plain cookies
  • Soup
  • Sugar free medications (Benedryl DM®.)
  • Ketone strips

What to do when are sick

Remember this information is only a guideline.

  1. Test your blood sugars often. You should be checking your blood sugars a minimum of 4 times a day. You may want to contact your doctor and inform them of your illness.
  2. Always take your medications (insulin or diabetes pills). If you talk to your doctor, they may adjust your dose if necessary.
  3. Follow your meal plan as closely as possible. If you can’t follow your meal plan, then have 10 - 15 grams of carbohydrate every hour (see suggestions below). This will help keep your blood sugars from dropping too low.
  4. Stay hydrated! Be sure to drink plenty of sugar-free beverages throughout the day.
  5. Test for ketones if you have type 1 diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes and experiencing chest pain, nausea and vomiting, then you should also be testing for ketones
  6. When to see your doctor or go to the hospital:
    • If you vomit more than twice in 12 hours
    • Your blood sugars are higher than 17 mmol/L (240 mg/dL) for more than 12 hours
    • If you cannot eat or drink
    • If you are dehydrated (dry mouth and tongue, cracked lips, dry skin, sunken eyes are signs of dehydration)
    • If you have trouble breathing, your chest hurts or have fruity smelling breath

If you are unable to follow your meal plan, choose one of the following food/beverage items every hour:

  • Juice: ½ cup (125 mL)
  • Regular pop (soft drink): ½ cup (125 mL)
  • Tomato juice: 1 cup (250 mL)
  • Applesauce: ½ cup (125 mL)
  • Jell-O®: 1/3 cup (75 mL)
  • Pudding: ¼ cup (50 mL)
  • Ice cream: 1/3 cup (100 mL)
  • Crackers: 6 soda crackers (saltines)
  • Cookies: 3 graham cracker wafers
  • Hot cereal: ½ cup (125 mL)
  • Toast: 1 slice
  • Meal supplement : ½ cup (125 mL)

If you have more questions about what to do when you are sick, contact your doctor, diabetes nurse or dietitian for help. It is always best to be prepared!