Warning notification:Warning

Unfortunately, you are using an outdated browser. Please, upgrade your browser to improve your experience with HSE. The list of supported browsers:

  1. Chrome
  2. Edge
  3. FireFox
  4. Opera
  5. Safari

What to do when you're sick

Having type 1 diabetes does not mean you're likely to get sick more often than usual.

But if you do get sick, it can make your blood glucose higher. This means you should take extra care.

Always contact your care team for advice.

Urgent advice: Contact your care team if:

  • you're vomiting or not eating much

This could turn into an emergency situation.


  • keep taking your insulin - you may need more than usual

  • check glucose levels more often than normal

  • drink lots of water or sugar-free drinks to avoid dehydration

  • check for ketones – you can get blood ketone test strips on prescription from your pharmacy and a ketone meter from your diabetes team

  • try to eat small amounts regularly - if you cannot eat, drink carbohydrate drinks like milk, full sugar minerals or fruit juice or have ice cream or sweets


  • do not worry about taking medicines that contain sugar – small amounts will not matter

Flu and Pneumococcal vaccine

Get the flu vaccine every year. Everyone with type 1 diabetes can get the vaccine free of charge. Check with your GP surgery when they offer the flu vaccine – it's usually in September and October.

It is also recommended that you get the pneumococcal 'pneumonia' vaccine every 5 years if you are under 65 years of age.

Going to hospital

If you end up in the emergency department (ED) for any reason, tell staff as soon as you arrive that you have type 1 diabetes.

Make sure staff know how important it is for you to get your insulin and to have food containing carbohydrates. If you cannot eat because you need a test or an operation, you might need a glucose drip.

If you need to stay in hospital, tell anyone who's treating you that you have diabetes – do not assume they will know.

Check your blood glucose levels more often than usual. The stress of being in hospital, and moving around less, might make them higher.

Page last reviewed: 1 August 2020
Next review due: 1 August 2023

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 9.