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If you are diabetic, you have already figured out how to manage your disease on a day to day basis. It’s a part of your life. But what happens when you get sick? Are there special adjustments that might need to be made on your road back to good health?

When you have a cold, flu or an infection, your blood glucose levels can elevate. Illness puts added stress on your body. In response, your body releases hormones to cope with the stress and fight off the sickness. These higher hormone levels can cause blood glucose numbers to increase. You need to have a management plan in place for your diabetes when you are sick. You might want to consider the following guidelines and tips to help you responsibly control your condition until you are feeling better.

First, consider a consultation with your doctor. If you use insulin, the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease recommends you continue to take your insulin as directed, even if you are sick and have been vomiting. Ask your physician about how to adjust the dosage based on your blood glucose testing results if needed. If you are not an insulin user, take your medication as usual even if you are sick and vomiting. Another recommendation is to check your blood glucose levels at least four times a day and record the results. You may need to report the numbers to your healthcare team.

Sometimes when you are sick you may not feel like eating as much food or are unable to keep it down. This can lower your blood glucose level. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends eating carbohydrate-rich drinks or snacks to help keep your level normal. Keep taking your medications even if you cannot eat. Be sure to stay hydrated. You need to drink at least 8 ounces of water or other calorie free liquid every hour you are awake. This will help prevent blood glucose levels from dropping too low. Try to incorporate these foods and drinks in your day to keep the numbers within normal range: juice, saltine crackers, broth, soda (that isn’t sugar free), sherbet, milk or yogurt.

Your doctor may want to know right away if your blood sugar levels are above 240 (even if you have taken your diabetes medication). Additionally, let your doctor know if you vomit more than once, have diarrhea for more than six hours, have difficulty breathing, have a high fever or feel unusually drowsy or have trouble thinking clearly.

The University of Illinois and Covenant Transactions will be providing the “Take Charge of your Diabetes: The Diabetes Self-Management Program” free of charge at your LifeSpan Center. The LifeSpan Center is located on the corner of Loxa Road and 800N in Charleston. The program is a series of six classes offered over a six-week period, each class lasting two hours. Each class is progressive in nature to build upon skills learned in previous classes. Participants will learn tools like: healthy eating, stress management, flexibility and endurance, monitoring blood sugar, medication management, working with your doctor and problem solving around your health condition. The classes will begin March 8 and conclude on April 12. Each class will start at 1 p.m. and end at 3 p.m. For more information or to register call 217-345-7034 or email Cheri Burcham at cburcham@illinois.edu. The cost for those completing the program will be covered by a grant from the Administration for Community Living.

The LifeSpan Center is located at 11021 E. County Road 800N, Charleston. The telephone number is 217-639-5150. The numbers for the programs are as follows: Coles County Telecare -- 217-639-5166; Family Care Giver Resource Center -- 217-639-5168 and Dial A Ride -- 217-639-5169 or 1-800-500-5505. See you at your LifeSpan Center.

Come join us each weekday at noon for “Lunch at LifeSpan.” Peace Meals are served Monday through Friday at a suggested donation of $3.50. To register, reserve a lunch or learn more, contact Peace Meal at 217-348-1800.

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