As COVID-19 is spreading across the world, it is making a lot of us nervous. Diabetics have heard that they are one of the groups that are high-risk of serious illness if they contract the virus. Diabetics are not more likely to catch COVID-19, but it is important to take the necessary precautions. I’m sure we have all heard the basics by now: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, if you are sick stay home, etc. But what should diabetics specifically be doing?
The best way to decrease your risk is to be ready for what can happen – this way you can limit your interaction with risky situations. Gather what you need to stay at home for a couple weeks and have plans for certain scenarios. Make sure your prescriptions are filled. If you contract the virus, you will need all your medications. Have a plan if you start to feel sick, know which doctors to call, and have ways to get to the doctor planned if necessary. Have some simple carbs that are easy to get into your system if you experience a sugar low.
If you are having these symptoms, seek emergency medical attention:
– Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
– Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
– New confusion or inability to arouse
– Bluish color in lips or face
What To Do If You Get Sick
If you are feeling sick, here is what the American Diabetes Association recommends doing:
-Drink lots of fluids. If you’re having
trouble keeping water down, have small sips every 15 minutes or so throughout
the day to avoid dehydration.
-If you are experiencing a low (blood sugar below 70 mg/dl or your target range), eat 15 grams of simple carbs that are easy to digest like honey, jam, Jell-O, hard candy, popsicles, juice or regular soda, and re-check your blood sugar in 15 minutes to make sure your levels are rising. Check your blood sugar extra times throughout the day and night (generally, every 2-3 hours; if using a CGM, monitor frequently).
-If your blood sugar has registered high (BG greater than 240mg/dl) more than 2 times in a row, check for ketones to avoid DKA.
-Call your doctor’s office immediately if you have medium or large ketones (and if instructed to with trace or small ketones).
-Be aware that some CGM sensors (Dexcom G5, Medtronic Enlite, and Guardian) are impacted by Acetaminophen (Tylenol). Check with finger sticks to ensure accuracy.
-Wash your hands and clean your injection/infusion and finger-stick sites with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.
Please be safe and keep your family, friends, and others in your life aware of your health situation.