Diabetes & Flu

Diabetes, flu & YOU!

Did you know the flu can cause serious complications even in healthy adults? If you’re living with diabetes, there are higher risks involved.

People with diabetes are 3 to 6 times more likely to be hospitalised from flu1,2. In Singapore, the awareness of flu and its impact on people living with diabetes is concerningly low – as is the uptake of flu vaccination among people living with diabetes3.

1 in 9 Singaporeans have diabetes4. That’s a lot of people who should be particularly aware of their flu risk. If this includes you or a loved one, you should know:

  • Flu can make it harder to control blood sugar5.
  • Flu can lead to serious complications including pneumonia, heart attacks, and stroke.
  • Following a flu infection, the risk of heart attack is increased by six times6 and those aged 40 and above are at higher risk of having a stroke up to two months post infection7.
  • Singapore is falling behind targets set by The World Health Organization on the number of ‘at risk’ people who should be vaccinated against flu3.

What you can do

If you…

  • Have diabetes, speak to your GP, nurse or polyclinic on how flu can affect you.
  • Know someone in your family with diabetes, help them get to a doctor or nurse to discuss how flu can affect them.
  • Are a healthcare professional, remind your patients living with diabetes about how flu can affect them.


  1. Allard R., Leclerc P., Tremblay C., & Tannenbaum T. (2010). Diabetes and the Severity of Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Infection. Diabetes Care, 33(7), 1491-1493. Retrieved from: here.
  2. Bouter K. P., Diepersloot R. J., Romunde L. K., Uitslager R., Masurel N., Hoekstra J. B., & Erkelens D. W. (1991). Effect of epidemic influenza on ketoacidosis, pneumonia and death in diabetes mellitus: A hospital register survey of 1976–1979 in The Netherlands. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 12(1), 61-68. Retrieved from: here.
  3. Gupta, Vinay et al. (2012) Influenza Vaccination Guidelines and Vaccine Sales in Southeast Asia: 2008–2011. PLOS One 2012; 7(12). Available at here. Last accessed October 2019.
  4. Gov.sg. Can you develop diabetes? Available at here. Last accessed November 2019.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Flu and people with diabetes. Available at here. Last accessed November 2019.
  6. Kwong, JC. et al. (2018). Acute myocardial infarction after laboratory-confirmed influenza infection. New England Journal of Medicine 378:345-53.
  7. Warren-Gash C, et al. (2018). Laboratory-confirmed respiratory infections as triggers for acute myocardial infarction and stroke: a self-controlled case series analysis of national linked datasets from Scotland. European Respiratory Journal 51(3). Accessed August 2019: here.