Why Diabetics Should Get a Flu Shot

Fall is the season when we all must consider whether or not to get a flu shot. As diabetics, is this a good idea or not?

Why You Should Get the Shot

All diabetics - type 1 diabetics and type 2 diabetics - experience a lessening of the ability of their immune system to fight infections. This is one of the many side effects of diabetes. As a result, infections and illnesses may progress faster and become more serious than they would for those who are not suffering from diabetes.

The flu tends to hit suddenly and hard, unlike the common cold. You may or may not have a fever with shaking chills. You will feel muscle aches, headaches, cough, sore throat, runny nose and extreme fatigue. There may be vomiting and diarrhea, but this is more common in children.

Even the best-controlled blood sugar levels can be disrupted when there is illness. The infection itself may cause blood sugar to go up, but the lack of appetite that often accompanies illness can cause blood sugar to drop. High fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are all disrupters of blood sugar levels. Trying to manage these levels at the same time as you are feeling miserable from the flu can be too demanding for the best of us.

Potential Complications of the Flu

Everyone knows that diabetes has many complications, including cardiovascular disease, neuropathy, cognitive impairment, gut impairments, kidney disease and so forth. Flu also has its complications, including myositis (muscle inflammation), central nervous system disease, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections and, most dangerously, either viral or bacterial pneumonia. It can also have a major impact on those with pre-existing heart disease, causing heart attacks, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the sack around the heart).

Children and the elderly are particularly at risk of complications. Because of this, it is important that caregivers are also vaccinated, so as not to infect those they care for.

When to Get the Shot

The flu shot has a long history of safety and efficacy when it comes to preventing or lessening the effects of influenza. Every year the formulation changes in anticipation of the specific flu viruses that are in circulation. Each flu shot generally protects against several viral strains.

The best time to get the shot is in the fall. Cases of the flu peak during January and February. It generally takes up to three weeks to receive full immunity from the shot you receive. However, it is not too late, even in January, February or March, to receive the vaccination.

Whether or not you receive a flu shot, if you begin to feel the symptoms of the flu, contact your doctor within 48 hours. There is an antiviral medication that must be taken within this time to be effective which can lessen the severity of your infection.

Don't put yourself at risk. Get a flu shot.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and WebMD

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