Does The Flu Shot Affect Blood Sugar?

While most physicians will tell you that your blood glucose will not be impacted by a flu shot, anecdotally there are reports of increased blood sugar after a flu shot. Does this mean you shouldn’t get a flu shot? Absolutely not. Your risk from contracting the flu is far greater than a brief period of elevated blood glucose.

The Flu Shot

Doctors say that diabetics should not take the nasal form of the flu vaccination, only the injection. The vaccine is made of killed flu viruses, and cannot give you the flu.

The vaccine is between 70% and 90% effective and takes about two weeks to provide full immunity. It is generally available sometime during September, and physicians urge diabetics to get it as early as possible so they have complete immunity when the season begins.

The Flu Shot Effect on Blood Sugar

Some people report higher-than-normal blood glucose readings immediately after their vaccination and for a week or two. Generally, these levels are not high enough to signify an emergency situation, i.e. hyperglycemia and all of its ramifications.

There is no real explanation for this blood sugar increase, other than a possible small bump to the metabolism as the body processes the vaccine. Being aware of the possibility, and adjusting insulin and diet to address the higher readings should be sufficient.

If after a couple of weeks blood sugar levels don’t return to normal, consult your physician.

Why Should Diabetics Get the Flu Shot?

According to the CDC, diabetics are three times more likely to be hospitalized for the flu and the complications it causes than the rest of the population.

Diabetes weakens the immune system, making diabetics more susceptible to the flu, and more likely to develop complications. Doctors not only urge diabetics to get vaccinated, but also strongly recommend that friends and family who are close to the diabetic are vaccinated as well. This is to provide added protection against the diabetic being exposed to the flu.

The flu can result in any number of complications, including pneumonia, fever, and dehydration. Being so ill can make it difficult to manage one’s diabetes, especially if nausea and diarrhea are making it difficult to eat.

What to Do if You Get the Flu

If you find yourself ill with the flu, call your doctor immediately. There are antivirals that your physician can give you that will lessen the intensity and shorten the duration of your illness. However, they don’t work unless administered within the first 48 hours of being sick.

Do your best to stay hydrated, and keep an eye on your blood sugar. If it becomes significantly low or significantly high, call your physician or go to the emergency room.

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Sources: Joslin Diabetes
Photo: Pixabay

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