Why Should Diabetics Have a Flu Vaccination?

If you're a diabetic, your GP may encourage you to go to their immunisation clinic every year to have a flu shot. If you're feeling fit and healthy, and your diabetes is under control, then you may not be sure if you really need this vaccination.

Why does your doctor want to immunise you against flu?

Diabetes Affects Your Immune System

You may be feeling in tip-top condition right now, but a dose of the flu could affect you quite badly. Your diabetes may be well-managed, but any illness can have more negative effects on you than it would on someone who didn't have your condition.

When you get an illness like flu, your blood glucose control goes to pot. Your sugar levels may take on a life of their own. If you can't control these levels, then your body will find it much harder to fight the flu infection. At the very least, it could take you longer to recover from the flu. You also stand a greater risk of developing infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. If your immune system is compromised, these complications could give you serious health problems.

Flu Affects Your Diabetes

If a bout of flu affects the consistency of your blood sugar levels, then your diabetes also becomes a lot harder to control. If your sugar levels go up or down dramatically and you can't get a handle on them, then you may have problems. For example, if your blood sugar is too high and you can't bring it down, then your doctor may need to change your insulin intake. You may need to modify your diet more to try and control your condition. This can be hard enough when you feel fit and well; it may be very difficult to eat the right things when you are sick.

If your sugar levels dip too much, then you have an increased risk of having a hypoglycaemic episode. Low blood sugar will also simply make you feel worse. So, if your GP recommends that you have an annual flu shot, then make sure you visit your immunisation clinic before flu season. Given your increased risk of complications and possible issues with your diabetes management, this vaccination makes sense.

It's also worth asking your GP if anyone else in your home should have a flu vaccination at the same time. This gives you added protection against being exposed to a flu virus.