Tips to stay well during COVID-19

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Managing the daily routine of diabetes and staying well can be tough. When you add the challenges of COVID-19 and all the new information that’s coming your way it can feel overwhelming.

We share important information and tips to help you manage your diabetes and stay well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Does diabetes increase the risk of COVID-19?

People with diabetes are no more likely to get the coronavirus than anyone else. However, just like the flu , having diabetes can increasing your risk of experiencing severe symptoms and developing complications.

When it comes to diabetes and COVID-19, the most important thing to remember is to be prepared before you get sick.

People living with diabetes should have a personalised sick day action plan and a sick day management kit ready to use at the earliest sign of illness.  If you don’t have one already, your diabetes team can help you put this together.

Monitoring Blood Glucose Levels (BGLs)

Being unwell can make it more difficult to manage your diabetes. This is because your body releases stress hormones when you are sick. These hormones make your liver increase the amount of glucose in your bloodstream, making it difficult for your insulin to do its job. This can cause your blood glucose levels (BGLs) to rise.

When you’re sick it is important to monitor blood glucose levels more often.

If you’re sick and have high BGLs, you may be at risk of severe dehydration. This can lead to you feeling drowsy and confused, and result in the need for urgent medical attention. Dehydration can affect the interstitial cell fluid balance so, if you’re using continuous glucose monitoring it is advisable to double check your BGL with a finger prick from time to time.

It’s very important to keep up your fluid and carbohydrate intake when you are feeling unwell, to avoid dehydration and low blood glucose levels – hypoglycaemia.

If your BGLs are above target for three days in a row we recommend you contact your doctor or diabetes educator as your medication may need adjustment.

Medication

It is important that people living with diabetes continue a normal schedule of their medications.

The Australian Government has advised there is no national shortage of NDSS products, or insulin or other diabetes-related medicines.

However, in recent weeks there have been very high orders and some people have ordered more product than they would normally need which has resulted in some short term local out-of-stock situations in some pharmacies.

As a temporary measure, and to ensure people with diabetes have access to the medication they need, some pharmacies are now limiting medications, including insulin, to a one-month supply and there will be limits on some NDSS products.

At this time, we recommend you order your medications from your chemist ahead of time, as it may take them a few days to access your supplies.

Only order what you need. There is no need to stockpile.

Sick Day Management Plans

When you live with diabetes it is important to be aware that some over-the-counter medications such as cough mixtures and decongestants contain sugar which can raise your BGLs.

If you have type 1 diabetes you should also check for ketones if your blood glucose levels rise above 15 or you have symptoms (dry mouth, decreased urination, increased thirst, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, rapid-breathing, drowsiness, confusion or weakness).

Review our factsheets on sick day management

Type 1

Type 2

We recommend that you download a copy now, so that you don’t have to go looking for it later and have it at hand if you need it later.

Managing stress

Stress can impact your diabetes management. Stress can lead to unstable glucose levels which can affect your mood.

When you’re stressed you might also be less motivated to exercise and eat and drink according to your treatment plan.

Our psychologist has put together some great tips on how to manage stress during this pandemic. We also have a range of factsheets for managing stress, anxiety and diabetes distress.

If you would like to talk to our Psychologist call our Helpline on 1300 342 238 to book an appointment.

Our tips for staying well

  1. Wash your hands often, with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  3. Use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze; sneeze or cough into your elbow if a tissue is not at hand
  4. Stay at home unless essential and avoiding close contact with others.
  5. Be prepared by having your sick day management plan and sick day kit in place.
  6. Use online shopping services and community support groups to help you get the food and groceries you need

Join our community of over 45,000 people living with diabetes