How does COVID-19 impact patients with diabetes?

Friday, 24 April 2020

The spread of COVID-19 requires people to stay home and practice social distancing to prevent exposure to the virus. Individuals at high-risk are especially vulnerable to complications, including people living with diabetes.

As Dr Daniel DeSalvo, from Baylor College of Medicine, in the US explains, “Many people with diabetes have a compromised immune system, especially if their diabetes is not well controlled. Together with people who live with congestive heart failure, hypertension and obesity they are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms and complications from COVID-19.”

Because coronavirus is a novel disease, experts have little evidence showing different risks for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

“What we theorise is that having worse diabetes control, higher HbA1C and higher glucose increases the risk of having a worse case of COVID-19 should someone contract the virus. That includes higher risk for requiring hospitalisation, ICU stays and mortality,” said Dr DeSalvo.

Sick Day Management Plan

That is why a sick day plan for managing your diabetes whether its coronavirus or another illness is so important.

If a person living with diabetes is unwell they should pay attention to

  • drinking fluids for hydration,
  • checking their blood glucose levels closely,
  • have insulin at home and
  • Connect with their diabetes health care team to get support.

Some aspects of diabetes can be managed from home if you remain vigilant and have a plan in place.

Read more about sick day management plans for type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Make sure you seek routine and emergency care

If people can visit their GP or diabetes support team via telehealth, it is a great way to keep up with routine checks.

For people with chronic health conditions, like diabetes, it’s essential that they continue to look after their health. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic it’s important to seek routine medical care and take action in an emergency.

If you’re experiencing symptoms like shortness of breath, severe fevers or dehydration you should seek out urgent medical care. Don’t wait as it could put your health at greater risk.

How to stay well

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep and including exercise in your day can help you stay in good health.

Staying on top of your diabetes management routine is also important.

At this time you also need to maintain good hygiene, wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing. All of these action will protect you from contracting coronavirus.

This is a time to be prepared, not panicked. We will get through this together. If you need support, we are here for you call our Helpline on 1300 342 238.

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