The spread of coronavirus (officially called COVID-19, short for coronavirus disease 2019) is making headlines all over the world. There is still a lot we don’t know, but we do know this is a respiratory illness that is easily spread from person to person and that those with the greatest risk of having complications are the elderly and/or people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
Understanding coronavirus and diabetes
- Coronavirus symptoms are similar to the flu and include fever, cough and/or shortness of breath. They usually appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. If you experience these symptoms, or believe you are sick from the flu or other illness, contact your doctor right away.
- Remember, being sick can affect your blood sugar levels. Your medications may need to be adjusted, but do not stop taking your insulin or medications without checking with your doctor first.
- The main method of stopping the spread is to quarantine infected people or people who may be infected in their homes for two weeks. This is why South Africa is on lockdown, with closed schools and businesses.
How to prevent a coronavirus infection
With these considerations, here are six precautions to reduce the risk of getting coronavirus, along with six additional tips for people with diabetes.
6 additional tips for people with diabetes
When emergency situations like the coronavirus pandemic play havoc with daily life, you can still be prepared to keep diabetes on track. It’s always a smart idea to keep from three days to two weeks of just-in-case diabetes supplies. As a reminder, here are six things people with diabetes should have on hand to prepare for such an event:
- Simple carbs like juice, jelly or sweets. These can help raise your blood sugar if your blood sugar goes low or you are having trouble eating.
- Blood sugar and ketone testing strips and extra lancets so you can change yours each time you check your blood sugar.
- Extra batteries for your blood glucose monitor.
- A working thermometer (or two).
- Enough refills on your prescriptions, such as your oral medication and insulin.
- Key information. This includes phone numbers of your doctors, your pharmacy, and your medical aid (if you have one) along with a detailed list of any medications you take, including vitamins and supplements.
What else can I do?
Taking proper precautions and planning ahead is important, but so is staying calm.
- Try to get plenty of sleep, eat well, and keep your stress (and your blood sugar) under control.
- Take some time to exercise as well. A healthy body is the best defense against illness.
- Finally, make sure to follow any recommendations made by official authorities.
- You’ll find the South African COVID-19 website here, with the latest information updated by the Department of Health.
- CDC, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Accessed March 5, 2020.
- Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc., Don’t Touch Your Face. Accessed March 5, 2020.
- American Diabetes Association, Coronavirus. Accessed March 5, 2020.
- BD, Tips For Managing Diabetes While Traveling, Sick or During Emergencies, Accessed March 5, 2020
- Medscape, ‘Everyone with Diabetes’ Must Prepare for COVID-19. Published March 11, 2020. Accessed March 12, 2020