Stomach Flu and Diabetes : Causes, Symptoms, Medications and Precautions

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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 because of Virus and Diabetes

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.

Related: Symptoms of Gastric Flu ; Things to Worry about in Toddlers and Adults

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.

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The complications that can occur from gastroenteritis, if you are having diabetes, are more likely in young, pregnant women or in the elderly.

Reduce diabetes with proper treatment

Other Complications

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.

Serious complications in Diabetic patients

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.

Related: Food Habits and Diet to Reduce Stomach Problems in Children

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.

Related: Stomache Ache After Eating : Causes and Treatment

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.

Right Food for stomach flu and diabetic patients

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

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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.
Stomach flu treatment

Kids after successful recovery from stomach flu

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