Diabetes Sick Day Plan

When you have diabetes and get sick, like with a cold or the flu, your blood sugar can go up. Make sure you know what to do BEFORE you get sick.

What Should I Do?

  • Prevent illness– get your flu and pneumonia shots.
  • Make a sick day toolkit. Being prepared is the key!
  • Be ready with diabetes friendly medicines, like sugar-free cold medicine. Ask your pharmacist for help.
  • Keep extra testing supplies. Test your blood sugar at least every 4 hours. If your blood sugar is 250 mg/dl or higher, you may need to test your urine or blood for
    ketones. Ask your doctor if this should be part of your sick day plan.
  • Keep taking your medicine. If you are on insulin, take it even if you cannot eat. Ask your doctor/ healthcare provider if you should take extra insulin, if needed.
    Drink, drink, drink! Try to drink water or sugar-free, caffeine-free drinks every hour you are awake.
  • Try to eat the same as usual. If you are having trouble eating, choose easy-to-eat foods like a ½ cup of regular Jell-O©/ gelatin, 1 popsicle, or 1 cup of soup. If you
    cannot keep any food down and you are on insulin, drink sugary drinks (15 gm carbohydrate) every hour, like a ½ cup of juice, Sprite, or Gatorade©/ sports drink.

When Should I Call For Help?

Call your doctor/ healthcare provider if:

  • You have been sick for 2 or more days and you are not getting better.
  • You are vomiting or have diarrhea for more than 6 hours.
  • You have moderate to large ketones in your urine or blood.
  • Your blood sugar stays above 250 mg/dl, even when you take extra insulin.

When Is It An Emergency?

Call 9-1-1, or go to the Emergency Room if you have vomiting or diarrhea AND any of the problems below. These are signs of diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, which is life threatening.

Very Thirsty

Frequent Urination

Very Sleepy

Fruity/Odd Smelling Breath

Deep, Heavy Breathing

Stomach Pain

Moderate to Large Ketones


Sick Day Tool Kit

  • Ketone strips
  • Extra testing supplies
  • Sugary drink
  • Emergency food
  • Sugar free medicines (cold, cough drops, etc.)
  • Snack
  • Thermometer
  • Extra insulin (if recommended)


Type 2 diabetes affects millions of individuals and their families, workplaces, and the U.S. health care system.


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