When you have diabetes, you need to control your blood glucose well no matter where you are and what you are doing. Even if you need a stay in the hospital, you need good blood glucose control for the best possible medical outcome.

How Does Hospitalisation Affect Your Blood Glucose?

how does hospitalisation affect your blood glucose

Stress tends to raise your blood glucose level, and hospitalisation is a stressful event.

Being ill is stressful, as are pain and medical procedures like having your blood drawn for tests and an intravenous drip inserted into your arm. On top of that, there are the changes in routine, the worrying about how much the hospitalisation is going to cost you, and how your family is coping without you. All these may cause your stress level and blood glucose to increase.

On the other hand, poor appetite or the need for fasting before a surgery may lower your blood glucose level.

What Can You Expect?

what can you expect

Knowing what to expect when you are hospitalised can help ease some of the anxiety.

  • Before and On Admission
  • If your hospital admission is a planned one, check with your doctor beforehand to find out how your diabetes will be managed during the stay.

    If you are admitted through the Accident and Emergency room, let the hospital staff know you have diabetes and the name of your doctor or clinic so that they can call them to find out more about your condition. The diagnosis of diabetes should be clearly stated in your patient record folder.

  • During Your Stay
  • Your daily care routine should include:

    • Routine blood glucose monitoring

      This is similar to the monitoring that you do at home, except that a hospital glucose meter is used and a nurse will be checking and recording your results instead. Depending on your needs, blood glucose checking will be done more or less frequently.

    • Insulin treatment

      Insulin is commonly used to control diabetes in the hospital, even if it is not part of your usual treatment. Depending on your condition, it is delivered using an intravenous (into the vein) drip, or is given by subcutaneous (under the skin) injection.

      An insulin drip is used if you are admitted for surgery, an organ transplant or have serious complications (diabetic ketoacidosis).

      Depending on your needs and medical condition, a variety of insulin may be used and doses are adjusted according to your blood glucose results.

    • Adequate nutrition

      Proper nutrition is important for the healing process. Your meal plan is determined by the hospital dietician. If you are scheduled for surgery you may need to fast or follow a special liquid diet. If you are unable to eat or have severe malnutrition, you may receive tube feeding or intravenous fluids.

  • On Discharge
  • Before you leave the hospital, ask a nurse educator to explain what you should do to control your blood glucose at home.

    Your diabetes treatment plan on discharge may be different from the one you were following before hospitalisation.

    For example, if you are already taking insulin prior to hospitalisation, you may need more insulin after discharge if you have been admitted for surgery or for an infection, or are now less active. On the other hand, if you have lost a lot of weight or are eating less, you may need less insulin.

    If you were not taking insulin prior to hospitalisation, you may need to continue to take insulin — at least for a short while — until your blood glucose levels stabilise. If so, a nurse educator will teach you (or your caregiver) how to give yourself an insulin injection.

    Finally, it is a standard practice for the hospital to notify your clinic of your hospitalisation, and arrange for you to have follow-up consultations either with your family doctor or a specialist doctor at the hospital.

To get well quickly, it is important for you to keep your blood glucose in control and manage your stress during hospitalisation. Ask your doctor and nurses if you have any concerns, follow your treatment plan and you are on your way to recovery.

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