Stomach Flu and Diabetes : Causes, Symptoms, Medications and Precautions
Stomach flu or Gastroenteritis can be dangerous when accompanied by Diabetes. When you are sick, the body releases hormones. These increase the body sugar levels. Viral infections like the Norovirus make diabetes more difficult to control.
When you catch a virus, the blood sugar levels will rise higher than usual. This is because the body attempts to fight off the virus. This also increases the requirement of Insulin.
Stomach Flu and Diabetes
People who don’t have diabetes are on the secure end. This is because, Insulin is produced in them automatically. But people who have no insulin, are at more risk, as their blood glucose levels stay high.
This is the reason why people with diabetes are advised to continue taking their diabetes medicine (insulin or oral medicines), even if they are vomiting. Monitoring sugar levels every 2 – 4 hours and sipping liquids every 15 minutes is important part of the treatment.
The complications that can occur from gastroenteritis, if you are having diabetes, are more likely in young, pregnant women or in the elderly.
GASTROPARESIS can be another debilitating situation which can be associated with the Norwalk virus(stomach flu). Though no serious causes have been identified, (gut) viruses are suspected in some situations. Gastroparesis is a technical term for delayed stomach emptying. The symptoms include nausea and vomiting, feeling full after eating only a little, swollen abdomen, loss of appetite etc.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) is another risk, if diabetic medicine are not taken during stomach flu. This is characterized by high blood glucose levels, presence of ketones in the blood and urine, and dehydration. This is because, fat is broken down, which leads to the production of acidic metabolic by-products called ketones. The accumulation of which causes the body’s tissues to become acidic.
These symptoms are more likely to occur in person with Type 1 diabetes. These include dry mouth, sleepiness, extreme nausea, stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhea and shallow breathing. Consult your doctor when you have these serious complications.
Certain type of medications can affect your blood sugar levels and are to be restrained. For example, Aspirin may lower blood sugar levels. Certain oral diabetes medications (like antibiotics) may decrease blood sugar levels. Decongestants may raise blood sugar levels.
Danny Sam, MD, the program director of the residency program at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clara, California who specializes in adult diabetes says “You have to monitor your blood sugar more frequently and you may have to adjust your meds”. According to Kelly Cerasuolo, RN, MSN, CPNP of Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, the best thing a patient or caregiver can do is reach out early to your diabetes care team when facing the stomach flu with diabetes.
The following videos talk about stomach flu, home remedies and diabetic symptoms.
When to See a Doctor?
You need to consult a doctor if you are unable to take fluids for 4 hours, vomiting or diarrhea for 8 hours, if you are sick for more than a day, if your blood glucose levels are greater than 17 mmol/L (which is millimoles per litre or 306 mg/dl) for more than 2 days. A normal fasting blood sugar level, (i.e no food for eight hours) is between 70 and 99 mg/dL. A normal blood sugar level two hours after eating is less than 140 mg/dL.
What to Avoid?
When a diabetic patient suffers from a stomach bug, one should avoid the following four situations. – hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), and ketosis independent of hyperglycemia. Children should be given utmost care if they have the following symptoms.
A fever above 100.5 degrees
When you either see a marked increase or decrease in blood glucose, or a constant presence of ketones
Vomiting or diarrhea for over two hours
Blood glucose levels above 250mg after two checks, or if levels do not go down after extra insulin
Moderate or large ketones
What Medications to be taken for Diabetic Patients with Stomach Flu?
Some of the medications which can be used by people suffering with diabetes and stomach flu.
- Take 50 mg B-complex vitamins daily to improve the blood sugar metabolic process.
- Take antioxidants in required amounts or as directed on the container.
- Thymus (Thymus vulgaris) extract of 500 mg twice a day on empty stomach can balance the immunity mechanism.
- Vitamin B12 is effective for the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
- Take 1000 mg of Vitamin C twice or thrice a day.
- Vitamin E increases glucose regulation and prevents cholesterol oxidation.
- Take Biotin, from 9 to 16 mg daily, and is useful for type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients.