By Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group
Well, it is that time of year again. And no, I am not talking about free shipping at Amazon.com or buy 1 get 1 free sales, but the less glamorous, always annual COLD AND FLU SEASON! All of us are vulnerable and need to take care of ourselves, but any illness can present a bigger challenge for those living with Diabetes. Each year there are many reports of serious complications from the flu, so it is important to be aware of the illnesses and the subtle differences between them.
Let’s start by understanding what cold and flu illnesses are and what makes them different from each other. Both are viral respiratory illnesses caused by two different viruses. Sometimes it is hard to tell which illness you have, so here are a few key points to be aware of. A cold usually comes on gradually with symptoms such as a stuffy nose, sneezing, and sore throat. It is unusual to have fever with a cold but you may have a hacking cough. The flu is characterized by an abrupt onset of fever that may be as high as 101-103º, along with chills, significant body aches, and a dry cough. The severity of flulike symptoms is usually so overwhelming it’s necessary to suspend your regular life until you feel better.
Treating these illnesses can be challenging because there is no magic cure. Since both are caused by a virus, antibiotics are not helpful (antibiotics are just indicated when there is a bacterial infection). It is important to treat your symptoms so you will feel more comfortable. Some measures you can take include drinking plenty of fluids, taking medicines to relieve your fever, achiness, and nasal congestion, and to get lots of rest. You should call your health care provider with any questions or concerns, especially if you have a lingering high fever or cough or if your symptoms continue for longer than 5 days without any improvement.
Any illness can make it difficult to keep your blood sugar values well controlled. You may need to check your blood sugar more often than usual, and have a harder time keeping at goal. You may need to make adjustments in your diet and medications. You should always check with your health care provider or certified Diabetes educator to have an individual program for illness.
I wish all of you a holiday season of health and happiness, free of cold and flu!