“I have diabetes, and a cold!”

When you have diabetes, a minor illness such as a cold can make your diabetes harder to keep under control. Having a Sick Day Plan ahead of time will help you be prepared and know when to ask for help.

Get to know the Pharmacist at Walmart

Amy’s Sick Day Plan

"I have diabetes, so I know it’s important for me to get my flu shot. Recently, when the Pharmacist at Walmart gave me my shot, I asked her what I should do if I catch a cold this winter. We scheduled a medication review and we put together my Sick Day Plan. It’s an action plan to follow in case I get sick. By knowing more, I feel confident and in control of my diabetes. Everyone with diabetes should have a Sick Day Plan. Get yours today!"
Amy, 45 years old, Ontario

Diabetes: What happens when you catch a cold?

“The Pharmacist at Walmart explained how getting sick can affect my diabetes.”
It’s important to know how to take care of yourself if you get sick, as you may be at increased risk of:
  • Low blood glucose (hypoglycemia): This can happen in some people with diabetes when they become sick because they have trouble eating or drinking.
  • High blood glucose (hyperglycemia): When a person with diabetes becomes sick, their body releases stress hormones to help with the infection. This can also happen if the person skips, delays or stops their diabetes medication.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA): This is most common in people with type 1 diabetes when the blood sugar levels get very high. It requires immediate medical attention because it can be life-threatening. Look out for symptoms like dehydration, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, rapid breathing, fruity breath, severe drowsiness.
For more information, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart.


Sick Day Plan rule #1: Keep testing

"When you’re sick, it’s harder to keep your blood glucose levels on track. The only way to know what’s going on is to check your blood glucose with your meter regularly."

Test your blood glucose at least every 2 to 4 hours

  • Low blood glucose: You may need to reduce your insulin dose or change your medications.
  • High blood glucose: You may need more insulin or medications.

Always check with your doctor, diabetes educator, or the Pharmacist at Walmart before adjusting or stopping your medications.


Sick Day Plan rule #2: Try to eat regularly

"If you can, eat normally. If you’ve lost your appetite, try light snacks or drinks that contain sugar (carbohydrate)."

Aim to have one of the following often to prevent your blood glucose from getting too low:

  • 1 slice of bread or toast
  • ¾ cup hot cereal
  • 1 medium fruit
  • 1 cup chicken noodle soup
  • 1 Popsicle®
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • ½ cup regular soft drink (not diet)
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup chocolate milk
  • 1 cup regular sport drink

Sick Day Plan rule #3: Stay hydrated

"Help get on the road to recovery by drinking plenty of liquids."
Drink plenty of sugar-free drinks. Some options include:

  • Water
  • Broth (preferably low-sodium)
  • Juice-flavoured drinks made with artificial sweeteners
Let your diabetes team know right away if you are showing signs of dehydration:

  • Very dry mouth
  • Cracked lips
  • Dry skin
  • Sunken eyes
  • Very yellow, or dark urine

Sick Day Plan rule #4: Watch your meds

"You may need to adjust your dose, or need to stop taking some medicines while you are sick."
If you have nausea, diarrhea or fever, or are vomiting or dehydrated, you may need to stop taking some medications until you feel better:
  • Certain blood pressure pills
  • Water pills
  • Metformin
  • Certain diabetes pills
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – these may be in pain and cold remedies

Remember, always check with your doctor, diabetes educator or the Pharmacist at Walmart before stopping or adjusting your medications.

Do NOT stop taking your insulin, even if you have a poor appetite.


Ask your doctor, diabetes educator or the Pharmacist at Walmart which medicines you should stop taking, if any, and check before using any over-the-counter medications.


Sick Day Plan rule #5: Know when you need help

"If you catch a cold this winter, follow your Sick Day Plan at home, and speak to the Pharmacist at Walmart if needed. But, make sure you know when to call 911."
Call 911 or other emergency services if you have:

  • Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), such as stomach pain, vomiting, rapid breathing, fruity breath, or severe drowsiness
  • A blood glucose that won’t stay above 4 mmol/L
While you don’t need to call your doctor or diabetes educator for a sniffle, it’s a good idea to seek advice if:
  • You aren’t sure how to look after yourself
  • You have symptoms of dehydration, such as a dry mouth, very cracked lips, or very yellow or dark urine
  • You can’t eat or drink

Sick Day Plan rule #6: Prepare your sick day kit

"Ask the Pharmacist at Walmart today to help you prepare your sick day kit."
Make sure you have the following items in your home in case you catch the cold this winter:

  • Plenty of fluids, e.g. water or other sugar-free drinks
  • Sugar-free lozenges and cough syrups
  • Bread
  • Milk
  • Fruit juice
  • Popsicles
  • Regular sports drinks
  • Sugar-free drinks
Other tips
  • Always ask the Pharmacist at Walmart before you buy over-the-counter medicines. He or she is always there to help you pick out medicines that work well and are safe for people with diabetes to use.

Important information

The Pharmacist at Walmart is always available to talk to you about how to manage your diabetes if you catch the cold. Come on into the pharmacy and... Just ask!

Sponsored by

  • OneTouch Verio® IQ
  • Pfizer Strive
  • Hemovel
  • TEVA

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.

The pharmacist at Walmart does not endorse or recommend any sponsor or their products or services.
Any representation, performance claim, warranty or guarantee in any materials herein is the sole responsibility of the sponsor that has prepared such materials and is not independently verified by Walmart.

All trademarks are used under licence by LifeScan Canada Ltd. © 2014 LifeScan Canada Ltd.,
Burnaby, BC V5C 6S7

Copyright © Pfizer Canada, Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Hemovel is a trademark of Pharmascience Inc.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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