Does Blood Sugar Rise When You Have Cold?

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Does a blood sugar spike have to do with cold? As always, monitoring your blood sugar levels (especially if you’re a diabetic) is important to make sure you’re within a healthy zone. But this could be more challenging when you have cold. The cold may make it more difficult to control your blood sugars.

What happens when you get sick?

There are lots of viruses that can lead to a condition called the ‘common cold’, affecting the linings of your nose, throat, and sinuses.

The next questions, how does something ‘micro’ creature like virus make your body feels so awful? And why does this occur? Well, this is probably very complex.

In general, the symptoms associated with the common cold are less likely associated with the virus itself. Instead, the symptoms are often a consequence of the body’s response to the virus [1].

Once you’re infected by the common cold virus, the body releases cytokines (small proteins that act as molecular messengers for your cells). Cytokines have a connection to cells of your immune system. We can say they’re the first memos from the body’s immune system [2].

And then your body’s protection system read these memos. As a result, blood vessels and white blood cells are focused to respond the infection and get rid of the virus immediately.

When the blood vessels get the message, they will dilate (especially for blood vessels in the affected area). This is required to allow more blood flow to the area and carry more white blood cells to remove the virus. Consequently, the affected area may turn to become red, puff, or filled with fluid.

White blood cells play a key role to fight the infection. They are the primary-busting agent of your body’s immune system. They may drive blood vessels to dilate even more.

With the action of white cells, the affected area would become hotter or wetter to make the virus less comfortable to settle in! If necessary, some of them may create antibodies so the body will be stronger to target future reinvasions.

Also, you may experience runny nose to flush out the used white blood cells, excess fluid, and the virus. But this is usually temporary. Once the infection was addressed, the symptom will improve.

Does blood sugar rise when you have cold?

Unfortunately, diabetes may increase your risk of being infected with flu virus or cold. The disease would make your immune system become weaker. A CDC outline suggests that people with diabetes are likely to have weaker immune system than those without diabetes [3].

Since keeping blood glucose levels in healthy range is very important for diabetics, it’s probably necessary to check the level at least every three or four hours when you have cold.

If the level increases but still close to your target range, a few lifestyle measures may help to restore the balance. But if it changes drastically, see a doctor!

And ‘Yes’ there is a chance for the cold to raise your blood sugar levels, why and how?

As mentioned earlier, your body’s likely to be focus on fighting the infection when you have cold. Besides downsides like inflammation and other uncomfortable symptoms, this response may also make it harder for your body to use insulin effectively.

Your body may also release more hormones which some trigger a blood sugar spike in order to respond the infection [4]. All these things would make your glycemic control more difficult when you get sick!

The following tips may help — or ask your healthcare team (if necessary) for comprehensive advice:

What to eat with diabetes when you have cold?

You may have appetite loss when you first get sick. But even though you don’t feel like eating, always try to eat! This is important since everyone (especially those with diabetes) need adequate nutrition.

  1. Try to always keep your normal meal pattern to control your blood sugar as well. If this is hard to do, eating smaller meals (but more frequently) may help.
  2. Still, eat healthy foods. This is not only important for your glycemic control, but also helpful to boost your recovery.
  3. And keep hydrated! Drink enough water, avoid alcohol and caffeine!

In case of when you’re not able to eat properly (you’re off your food), talk to your dietitian!

The key is to always keep your blood glucose levels stable. A good idea recommended by the American Diabetes Association, try to eat something with about 15 g of carbs every 60 minutes or so. Something high in complex carbohydrate is much better.

If the blood sugar level spikes higher, sip liquids to restore the balance such as sugar-free ginger ale or water. See also ‘super’ foods to lower high blood sugar in this post!

How about cold medications with diabetes?

Always keep taking your diabetes medications as well as your doctor suggests, particularly true when you have cold since your blood sugar is easy to fluctuate during illness. If you can’t take them or if you need to change the dose of your insulin therapy, talk to your doctor!

Your doctor may also prescribe cold medications to help improve your recovery more quickly.

If you consider OTC cold medications, make sure they’re safe for your glycemic control – a golden rule, avoid products containing high sugar such as cough liquid medicines. Also avoid cold medicines with decongestants if you have hypertension (high blood pressure)!


To help relieve your cold more quickly, the following home remedies may also help: