Diabetes is a leading cause of disability and death in the United States, and one in 11 Americans suffers from it. Millions more are at risk of developing the disease.

We are heading into flu season now, and people with diabetes have a higher likelihood of serious flu complications; in fact, they are three times more likely to be hospitalized from the flu than other people. This is because diabetes makes the immune system less able to fight infection, and the illness can also make it harder to control blood sugar levels.

Because of these potential complications, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people with Type 1 or 2 diabetes, who are six months or older, get an annual flu shot.  In addition, it is a good idea for people around them to get a flu shot, too.

The flu shot has a long and established safety record for people with diabetes. Because diabetics have a greater risk of getting pneumonia from the flu, a pneumonia vaccine is also recommended. Only a third of those having diabetes ever get a simple and safe pneumonia shot.

What to do if you are diabetic and get the flu or pneumonia? Check your blood sugar and ketones every three to four hours, eat foods that are part of your regular meal plan and aim for drinking one cup of fluid per hour. There are some over-the-counter medications, sugar-free, that might ease symptoms.

Better yet, November is American Diabetes Month, and since the flu season is in progress, this is a good time to get important health protection by receiving a flu shot and pneumonia vaccine.

Call RVNA at 203-438-5555 for questions or to make an appointment.

RVNA Today is supplied by the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, which is a fully accredited, Medicare-certified home health care agency that also supports public health and safety, and promotes the highest quality of life in 27 towns in western Connecticut, including Wilton.