Written by Carole Jakucs, MSN, RN, PHN
If you’re living with diabetes, you likely have questions and concerns
regarding COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus disease and the novel coronavirus).
While having diabetes does not increase your risk for contracting coronavirus,
if you do get the virus, you’re more
susceptible to developing serious complications and having poor outcomes.
An increased risk is also seen in patients who are living with other chronic
medical conditions such as, hypertension, heart and lung disease.
We want to provide you with the latest information on:
- Ways to reduce your risk for contracting COVID-19
- What to do if you get COVID-19
If you have any type of diabetes (Type 1, Type 2 or Gestational) you’ll
want to be sure to follow the CDC guidelines recommended for everyone,
to protect yourself and
reduce your risk of catching COVID-19.
Ways to reduce your risk
These strategies include:
Hand washing and hand sanitizer use: Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean, running water for at least
20 seconds. Singing the song, "Happy Birthday" twice, which
is about 20 seconds.
Be sure to rub all surfaces of both your hands under clear, running water.
Don't forget to wash your fingertips, thumbs, palms, between your
fingers and tops of your hands.
If you're not by a sink with soap and running water, the next best
way to clean your hands is by using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle. Use the recommended amount
of hand sanitizer, and rub all surfaces of your hands until the hand sanitizer dries.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands: Always wash your hands before touching your face, before eating, after using the bathroom and when you return home.
Social distancing - Keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others: Know that even people without symptoms are able to spread COVID-19.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick: You’re at a higher risk of developing serious illness if contract COVID-19.
Follow the stay-at-home recommendations: Heed this advice as much as possible as per the national, state and local
guidelines provided by health and elected officials.
Disinfect high-use surfaces: This includes surfaces in your home and those you may need to touch if
you have to go to the market, pharmacy or doctor’s office. Make
sure to use products that have the word, “disinfectant” on
the label. The label should also list an Environmental Protection Agency
- Shopping cart handles
- Payment key pad surfaces at grocery or pharmacy check-outs
- Counter tops
- Door knobs
- Light switches
- Faucet handles
- Cell phones
- Steering wheel (car)
If you have to go out, wear a mask: While
home-made masks are not as effective as medical grade masks, they can offer some protection.
Wearing a mask does not replace social distancing (you still need to do that).
If you become ill with COVID-19
Remember to continue your medication and treatment plan as prescribed by
- Monitor your blood glucose (blood sugar) more often, to catch any highs
or lows that can come from being ill. Infections, eating and drinking
less, and taking new medicines can drastically affect blood glucose levels.
- Monitor your ketones more often: High ketones can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis
(DKA). DKA is a life-threatening condition if it’s not treated quickly.
Call your doctor right way, and seek emergency care immediately.
- Call your doctor for advice if your condition worsens, if you’re
vomiting, have a high fever, develop moderate or large ketones or just
feel you are getting worse.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Remember the 15:15 rule to treat hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that is
70 mg/dl or below, or below your target range. Eat 15 grams of easy-to-digest
(simple) carbohydrate such as:
- Orange juice
Soda (regular with sugar –
- Jam or jelly
- Glucose tablets or liquid preparations (from a pharmacy)
Plan ahead regarding refilling your medications:
- Consider pharmacies that deliver so you don’t have to go out
- Refill your medications before your supply is too low
- Call your insurer to see if you qualify for 90-day refills (instead of 30-day)
If you use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM): Please be aware that your blood glucose readings can be affected by using
Tylenol (Acetaminophen). Double check your blood glucose results with
a fingerstick monitor.
Remember that stress makes blood glucose rise: Find ways to de-stress with relaxation breathing, positive thoughts, mediation,
prayer, imagery, reaching out to family and friends electronically, and
seeking professional help from medical and mental health professionals
as needed. Some health professionals are now offering Telehealth as an
option in place of an in-person visit.
For more information about diabetes and COVID-19 support and resources,
visit the Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition (DDRC) and general
disaster planning tips when living with diabetes.