Flu and Diabetes: Know The Facts
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The fall is a season full of pumpkins, football and pretty scenery, but it is also the season that we are due for our annual influenza (flu) vaccinations. When discussing the flu and vaccinations, I often hear many myths and misconceptions that prevent people from obtaining them annually. When choosing whether or not the flu vaccine is right for you, you should discuss questions and concerns you may have regarding this with your doctor or other qualified health care professionals. Keep in mind most of the incorrect information regarding vaccinations that is on the internet or in the media, is not coming from reputable sources or health care professionals. In most cases the benefits of getting the flu vaccine, significantly outweigh the risks. It’s also important to remember that the flu is a common, but preventable disease and the best way to prevent this is by receiving the flu vaccination. Similar to other illnesses and infections, having the flu often leads to higher blood sugars and can increase the risk of short term complications and even death. Flu shots are often done in your primary care offices, but can also be done at local pharmacies and are covered through your insurance plans, including Medicare. It is important to keep up with these annually, since the flu is highly contagious, and remember the more people vaccinated the less likely the flu will spread. Just in case you were curious…. NO the flu shot does NOT give you the flu.

Flu Facts

  • Those at highest risk of developing the flu are children, pregnant women, and adults age 65 and older (there is also a high dose flu vaccine designed for individuals 65 and older, you may want to discuss with your doctor)
  • Individuals with medical conditions such as; heart disease or diabetes are also at an increased risk
  • People with diabetes are six times more likely to be hospitalized and three times more likely to die from influenza compared to the rest of the population
  • Influenza and pneumonia are the 8th leading cause of death in the United States
  • Flu season usually peaks between December and February, but in 2016 it peaked in mid-march
  • According to estimates done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2017), during the 2015-2016 season there was an estimated 25 million influenza illnesses, 11 million influenza-associated medical visits, 310,000 influenza- related hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths (the death total included both influenza and pneumonia)
  • In 2015-2016, the CDC estimated that the Flu vaccine prevented an estimated 5.1 million illnesses, 2.5 million medical visits, 71,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths

Signs and Symptoms

(Remember everyone’s signs and symptoms will vary)

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)

Recommendations

  • If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of the flu please see your health care provider immediately or go to the closest hospital to be tested. You can also follow sick day management guidelines provided by your doctor.
  • The American Diabetes Association and the CDC recommends ALL people 6 months and older with diabetes to receive the flu shot annually.
view references
  1. American Association of Diabetes Educators (2015) Retrieved from https://www.diabeteseducator.org/docs/default-source/practice/practice-resources/synopsis/vaccination-practices-for-people-with-diabetes.pdf?sfvrsn=0
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/2015-16.htm
  3. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes- 2017. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved from http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/diacare/suppl/2016/12/15/40.Supplement_1.DC1/DC_40_S1_final.pdf
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