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How flu affects those with chronic illnesses

Diabetics feel the effects of the flu more than those without the condition.

Posted: Feb 2, 2018 6:35 PM
Updated: Mar 10, 2020 3:43 PM

Jenni Jeffers is passionate about diabetes all year, but this flu season she's putting an emphasis on what the strong virus means for people who share her condition.

Jeffers is a type two diabetic, and she told WAAY 31 what it feels like to have diabetes and get sick.


"It's a double whammy," Jeffers said.

She said flu is especially dangerous.

"I deal with my blood sugar levels being more high than low, and when they do go high it feels like you have the flu," Jeffers said.

WAAY 31 reached out to a local doctor to confirm, and Jeffers is right.

When the flu hits people with diabetes it hits them harder than people without their condition.

That's because a diabetic's immune system is already compromised.

Jeffers told WAAY 31 that's why she isn't taking any chances this flu season.

"I'm not making necessary trips to Walmart, I mean unnecessary trips to Walmart. I'm trying to be smart about being around people."

Jeffers also has two diabetic parents.

"I have been terrified that they were going to get the flu," Jeffers said.

Jeffers also told WAAY 31 the thought of catching the flu as a diabetic was so scary for her parents that for a time they skipped going inside the grocery store all together.

"When you're sick it really does impact your blood sugar levels. They go up and down and there's a lot of danger to that," Jeffers said.

Jeffers also told WAAY 31 that flu symptoms and the body's response to high blood sugar look similar.

They look so similar, in fact, that a lot of diabetics find out they have diabetes when they go to the doctor thinking they've come down with the flu.

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