COVID-19 can be more lethal for patients with comorbidities, such as chronic kidney or heart disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
In this article, we are focusing on how a person with diabetes can cope effectively with COVID-19, encompassing both preventive tips and safety measures once infected, as complications may arise when symptoms are not managed at the outset. But before that, let’s have a brief overview of both conditions.
COVID-19 in a Nutshell
The virus, officially named SARS-CoV-2, can rapidly spread from person to person, through respiratory droplets from talking, coughing, or sneezing.
For some people, COVID-19 symptoms may not show. It’s possible to carry the virus for two days up to weeks before you develop symptoms. The common symptoms include the following:
- shortness of breath
- worsening cough
Most people with COVID-19 will only manifest mild symptoms such as cough, fatigue, or loss of taste or smell with no shortness of breath or abnormal chest imaging. Mild cases, however, can still have long-lasting effects.
Emergency medical services are necessary when you develop the following severe symptoms:
- difficulty in breathing
- persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- bluish lips or face due to low oxygen levels
What is Diabetes Mellitus?
When you eat, your body breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose that triggers your pancreas to release a hormone called insulin. Insulin then moves glucose from your blood into your cells to be stored or used for energy. Your brain, muscles, and other tissues use glucose as a critical source of energy.
If your body is unable to produce adequate insulin to manage blood glucose effectively, it disrupts the normal functioning of your body systems. This then leads to the symptoms of diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus, or more commonly known as diabetes, is a term for a group of metabolic disorders that cause elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels in the body. When high blood sugar caused by diabetes remains untreated, it damages the nerves, kidneys, eyes, and other organs.
The Link Between Diabetes and COVID-19
Diabetic patients may have impaired immune systems, which affect their susceptibility and prolonged recovery from other diseases. Chronic uncontrolled diabetes can also result in inflammation, impairing the immune system for the long term. This might explain the severe outcomes in diabetic patients with COVID-19.
How can a diabetic patient reduce the chance of getting infected?
A diabetic person can avoid catching the virus by observing minimum safety protocols.
- Staying at home as much as possible to reduce the risk of exposure to asymptomatic infected people
- Always wearing face mask and face shield when in a public place
- Practicing physical distancing, which requires being at least 1 meter apart from others in crowded places
- Frequent handwashing and good hygiene
- Having a contingency plan in case you get sick, including isolating yourself from other family members
- Maintaining all medical appointments, even if just virtually
How can a diabetic plan for quarantine?
Lockdown and social distancing implementations may make it hard for you to get the supplies you need, so it’s best to prepare and stock up on your necessities in advance before you get quarantined. Some of the essentials for diabetics are listed below.
- Adequate supply of insulin refills and other medications
- Extra glucagon and ketone strips
- Phone numbers of hospitals as well as your health insurance provider
- Healthy, carb-filled foods like whole-wheat crackers, fruits, and vegetables
- Simple carbs like honey, fruit juice, or hard candies in case your blood sugar dips
How can a diabetic cope with COVID-19?
As a diabetic, you may be able to manage with home care, especially if you’re still physically capable and able to maintain safe distancing from other people in your household. It is important to have your blood glucose monitored and that you watch out for any untoward symptoms.
You will also have to keep drinking water close by because you’ll be needing more water when you’re sick. Note that over-the-counter medicines for the relief of virus-like symptoms, such as fever and cough, can affect your sugar levels. Check with your doctor before taking anything that may cause adverse effects. Get medical help right away when you start experiencing shortness of breath, dry cough, and fever, or when your blood sugar gets out of control and you feel nauseated.
It would also be best that you sign up for vaccination with your local government unit (LGU) or your employer, as vaccines are effective in fighting the serious symptoms of the virus.
Diabetic patients should take extra caution to prevent COVID-19 and remain safe once infected. Stay educated, always prepare, and seek immediate help as needed.