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Diabetes And The Flu: A dangerous combination


If you have diabetes, flu season should trigger a special alert for you. Diabetes can weaken your immune system, allowing the flu to become much more serious. That makes precautions against the flu particularly important for the more than 37 million Americans living with the disease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)).


World Diabetes Day (November 14) falls during flu season and Aspirus wants community members with diabetes to be aware of the risk of severe illness that can come with getting the flu.


People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization and sometimes even death, according to the CDC. But if your diabetes is well-managed, the risk of serious illness decreases.


“I have advised my patients that obtaining or maintaining good blood sugar is one of the best things they can do to help decrease their risk,” says Jessika Jamgochian, an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner specializing in endocrinology at Aspirus.


The CDC suggests taking the following precautions against the flu:

  • Get a flu shot early in the fall.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If that's not possible, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  • Avoid getting close to people who are sick.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs can enter your body that way.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze and throw the tissue away. Or sneeze or cough into your sleeve, near the inside of your elbow.


“If someone does become ill, they must continue to be diligent in checking blood sugars. For many, insulin needs change during times of illness,” says Jamgochian. “Drinking adequate amounts of water is also important when ill, as dehydration can worsen hyperglycemia.”


Jamgochian also suggests the following for those who get sick:

  • Continue taking your insulin and medications as directed
  • Communicate with your treating provider


If you have questions about managing your diabetes, be sure to contact the provider treating your diabetes. To learn more about diabetes care at Aspirus, visit


Jessika Jamgochian, APNP, sees patients at Aspirus Endocrinology Clinic in Wausau and Aspirus Rhinelander Clinic – N Chippewa Drive.


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