COVID-19 – commonly referred to as coronavirus – is becoming a continuous global focus. The World Health Organization has confirmed that the coronavirus has resulted in a pandemic, and governments are taking necessary precautions.
In amongst this, we at Hedia want to take a step back, and look at what this really means for people with diabetes. Using the Danish Diabetes Association and Diabetes UK as a reference, we’ve prepared a handy guide during these uncertain times.
Coronavirus Precautions for People with Diabetes
People with diabetes are usually at higher risk of infection in general. The coronavirus is not an exception to this.
One of the most important precautions for people with diabetes is to test blood glucose/sugar levels regularly, since illness can unexpectedly impact blood sugar. Make sure to check the blood sugar at least every four hours, and in a secure and hygienic environment.
It goes without saying that a diabetes kit is essential at all times, in order to treat high or low blood sugar. Remembering this will be a great deal easier with your diabetes assistant, since Hedia gives reminders for when to test blood sugar.
Other precautions for the coronavirus are not different to general precautions for staying healthy. This is the same approach to avoiding the flu – something you can read about on our blog post about diabetes and the flu.
Because of the contagious nature of the coronavirus, hygiene is vital:
- Wash hands regularly with soap, especially after coming home from being in public places
- Wash hands thoroughly, and for long enough – the British government even suggests washing hands for as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice!
- Avoid large gatherings of people (including family – stay in touch online)
- Avoid public transport if it’s not essential
- If possible, work from home
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes if hands are not clean
- When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with your hands – or, even better – sneeze or cough into your elbow to avoid spreading the virus with your hands
Effect of Coronavirus on People with Diabetes
To put the effect of coronavirus into perspective: the deadliness of the coronavirus is generally of a low risk. And most people experience mild symptoms when infected with the virus.
At the same time, that doesn’t mean people should be blasé about the virus. So, be aware of the symptoms, which can include:
- Breathing difficulties in more severe cases
If you suspect you have coronavirus, stay at home to avoid infecting others. Don’t visit a doctor about coronavirus symptoms, unless they are particularly severe. The general advice is to simply stay at home and self-quarantine for 1-2 weeks.
However, if you do visit a doctor – which might happen because you feel that there are further complications from your illness, since those with diabetes are more sensitive – make sure to phone ahead before going in person. A doctor will advise on how to proceed if a consultation is needed.
Many countries have established a specific phone number or website dedicated to coronavirus consultation. This includes the NHS’s online service, where a coronavirus testing may be booked, or the Danish Health Authority Hotline (+45 7222 7459).
How to cure Coronavirus
There are certain steps to take for a person with diabetes who is ill. Again, keep checking blood sugar to see if it’s within your target range.
If you have high blood glucose/sugar, check your ketone levels too. The presence of ketones should be a cause for you to contact your health team.
The same blog post about diabetes and the flu will have more detail on how to recover while sick.
As for the coronavirus itself, there is no specific cure except for general methods for recovering from infection. This includes:
- Staying hydrated – preferably with water instead of sugary drinks in order to keep blood sugar stable
- Keeping well-nourished
- Staying warm
While the situation may appear alarming or shocking, panicking won’t change anything. Instead, stay smart and keep up both the hygiene and the diabetes management routine.
And if you’re stuck at home perhaps you can amuse yourself with the Vietnamese Health Ministry’s earworm of a song about avoiding infection, which is currently going viral (the good kind of viral).
From all of us at Hedia – stay safe!