Everyday illness or infections will nearly always cause a rise in blood glucose levels whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Therefore, at the earliest sign of any form of illness such as a cold or virus, it is important for you to take action.
What to do when unwell When to call your doctor
1. Tell someone If you are alone, tell someone you are unwell so they can check on you. If you need help and your ‘carer’ is unable to help you, ask them to call your doctor.
2. Test Check your blood glucose levels at least every 2–4 hours (general recommendations for targets when well are 6–8mmol/L before meals and 6–10mmol/L after meals (2 hours after starting the meal)).
3. Keep drinking and (if possible) eating If you take insulin or diabetes tablets, it is important to avoid hypoglycaemia .
It is also important to avoid becoming dehydrated by drinking extra unsweetened fluids every hour such as water, diet soft drinks, diet cordial, weak tea or broth.
• If you CAN eat normally Continue to eat as normal and sip an extra ½ –¾ cup of unsweetened fluids every hour.
You will probably need to keep taking your diabetes tablets or insulin. If you are concerned about low blood glucose levels or experience hypoglycaemia, call your doctor for advice about what to do.
• If you CAN’T eat normally Have some easy to manage carbohydrate drinks, snacks or small meals every 1–2 hours
• If you CAN’T eat at all and your blood glucose level is: • More than 15mmol/L: Drink unsweetened fluids
. • Less than 15mmol/L: Drink sweetened fluids as listed.
Call your doctor if you can’t eat at all. Call your doctor if your blood glucose level is consistently above 15mmol/L for more than 12 hours.
Call your doctor if:
• Vomiting or diarrhoea continues for more than 12 hours.
• You continue to feel unwell or become drowsy.
  • When unwell, test your blood glucose levels
When you are ill it is very important to keep up your carbohydrate and fluids. If you take insulin or tablets for your diabetes, carbohydrates are especially important to prevent hypoglycaemia.
Here are some ideas to provide 15 grams of carbohydrate per hour if your blood glucose levels are under 15mmol/L.
Drinks providing approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate
Milk 1 cup (250ml)
Milk + flavouring ¾ cup milk + 1 tablespoon of Milo®, Actavite® or Quik®
Fruit juice* ¾ cup
Tea or coffee Add 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey
Hot lemon juice Add 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey
Herbal tea Add 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey
Gastrolyte 4 sachets Ordinary soft drink* or cordial* (not diet) ¾ cup Sports drink (eg: Gatorade)
1 cup Snacks providing approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate
Crackers or crispbread 3 Sao®/Ryvita® etc
Dry toast 1 slice
Plain sweet biscuits 3 Milk Arrowroot/Morning Coffee etc
Mashed potato ½ cup
Rice ⅓ cup
Breakfast cereals ½ cup Special K®, 2 Weetbix® Porridge (made with water)
⅓ cup Ordinary jelly or custard
½ cup Ice cream 3 scoops
Ice blocks 1½ sticks
* Care should be taken with these fluids if diarrhoea occurs.
For best absorption, they may need to be diluted by 5 measures of water to 1 measure of ordinary soft drink or cordial, or 5 cups of water to 1 cup of cordial or soft drink.