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Home > Knowledge & support > Living with type 1 diabetes > Health and wellbeing > Sickness
If you get ill with a virus like the flu or a bacterial infection, your body will make and release stress hormones. These hormones can trigger a release of glucose that is stored in your liver. On these days your body will need more insulin.
Being ill can make your blood glucose levels rise, so it’s important to check your blood glucose levels more, so you take the right amount of insulin.
If you don’t have enough insulin, your body starts to burn fat to make energy. This can produce ketones which can build up and make you even more unwell and even lead to more serious conditions like diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
You can help avoid this by regularly checking your blood glucose levels.
You are less likely to produce stress hormones if you have a stomach bug, like gastroenteritis or norovirus. In this case your blood glucose levels are more likely to be low because you’re not eating or not absorbing the food that you are eating.
If you have vomiting or diarrhoea, follow the sick day rules below.
Not all illnesses have an impact on your blood glucose levels. Illnesses like chicken pox, seem to have little or no effect on your blood glucose. The impact of illness is very much dependent on the illness you have and can be different each time you have it.
Whatever illness you have, following the sick day rules will help keep you safe.
You can download the sick day rules so you have them to hand when you’re ill.
If you are unable to monitor your blood glucose and ketone levels as often as needed, contact your Diabetes Care Team.
Generally, flu is an unpleasant virus which people usually recover from within two to seven days. However, if you’ve got type 1 diabetes the risk of a more serious illness developing is higher.
That’s why everyone with type 1 diabetes is eligible for a free flu vaccination. These are normally available from early autumn. Contact your GP or visit the NHS website to book your appointment.
If you have type 1, you will also be eligible for a COVID booster vaccination. Find out more on the NHS website.
Learn what to look out for, how to measure ketones, and what the results mean.
Find out more about complications and what you can do to help reduce risk.
Get more information about managing your glucose levels.
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