Diabetes & flu: a devastating combination
Flu hits diabetes patients hard – nurses and GPs can help improve vaccination rates
‘I remember the fever and fatigue as being unbearable,’ recalls Maximino Álvarez, a diabetes patient who has had flu twice. ‘It is an unpleasant experience which should be avoided.’
Flu infection can be serious for anyone but for people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, the risk of hospitalisation can be as much as ten times higher than the rest of the population.
‘Anything that affects your health has an impact on your diabetes,’ explains Maximino. ‘With flu, your blood sugar levels are affected and it becomes difficult to keep it under control. Resistance to fast-acting insulin is a frequent effect of influenza infection.’
Dr Xavier Cos, a GP specialising in diabetes care, says people with diabetes are more severely affected by any respiratory tract infections and can suffer serious complications as a result.
‘The reaction to the infectious process often exacerbates their metabolic disease,’ he says. ‘In many cases, they are also not as well able to fight the infection so a cascade of consequences can follow – just as in older people or those with chronic lung or kidney diseases.’
Flu and pneumococcal disease – both of which can be prevented by vaccination – are serious respiratory diseases that can increase the risk of hospitalisation. ‘Epidemiological data tells us that people with diabetes who suffer from flu or other respiratory problems are at higher risk of hospital admission and likely to spend more days in hospital, Continue reading