Should I Get a Flu Shot if I Have Diabetes?
Having type 1 or type 2 diabetes puts you at increased risk of illness because elevated blood sugar weakens the immune system. Getting an annual flu shot is the best way to protect yourself.
Fall is here, and that means that along with pumpkins and hay rides, it’s influenza (flu) season—which can last until May.
For those with diabetes, flu isn’t just a drag: It can result in hospitalization, and occasionally even death. Fortunately, a vaccine can slash your risk of the illness by an estimated 40-60%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The flu shot also lowers your chances of hospitalization, which is most common in flu patients with chronic conditions like diabetes.
The vaccine can also “prevent major respiratory infections during the flu season,” says Kavita Seetharaman, MD, staff physician at Joslin Diabetes Center, a Boston-based non-profit affiliated with Harvard Medical School.
Why Is the Flu So Dangerous for People with Diabetes?
“As with any other infection, the flu virus can cause inflammation, congestion, and mucus production in the respiratory tract,” as well as cough, fever, and even breathing difficulties, Dr. Seetharaman says.
But for diabetes patients, there’s another risk. “When patients with diabetes are not feeling well,” due to illness, infection, or injury, “they can become more insulin resistant. Blood sugar rises [even if patients aren’t eating], and ketones can develop,” she explains. Ketones are chemicals that are produced when there’s not enough glucose (sugar) to fuel the metabolism; the p Continue reading