Flu Shots More Important For Diabetics - 8 News NOW

Paula Francis, Anchor

Flu Shots More Important For Diabetics

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Doctors encourage many people to get flu shots each year but they say it's especially important for those with diabetes.

The Eye on Health Team explains why in this week's Dealing with Diabetes segment.

While it's a good idea for all of us to try and avoid catching the flu, it's even more important for diabetics. The health district says that it is not too late to think about getting a flu shot.

Bonnie Sorenson is Director of Nursing for the Southern Nevada Health District. She strongly encourages diabetics to take time out for a flu shot. Having diabetes makes it harder to fight off viruses that cause the flu.

Sorenson said, "Well, their immune system is somewhat compromised. Anytime you have any kind of a chronic disease, it's much more of a strain on the body, which makes you much more susceptible to any kind of a viral infection."

A flu-related illness can add stress to the body, which in turn, can affect blood sugar levels. Serious complications may start off with dehydration.

"...which would exacerbate the diabetic condition for them and actually cause them to have much more elevated blood sugars and end up in the hospital with a lot of other complications," Sorenson continued. 

Tips on maintaining a healthy immune system and avoiding the flu include: regular hand washing, eating healthfully, exercise, getting plenty of sleep, staying away from someone who is ill, and keeping blood sugars within normal limits.

Las Vegas endocrinologist Reid Litchfield says that while diabetics are at higher risk for flu complications, more and more are taking measures to prevent that from happening.

Dr. Litchfield commented, "I think more people are interested in being involved in their health care. And are being proactive and are taking that extra effort they need to be on top of their health. And that certainly pays off when they have diabetes."

Sorenson says although influenza has not yet been reported in Clark County, the flu season normally peaks in late January and into February. So, it's not too late to get a flu shot.

E-mail your comments to Anchor Paula Francis.

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