• Ann Falco

Managing Diabetes During The COVID-19 Pandemic


Diabetes is a serious disease that must be closely cared for and managed. By living a healthy lifestyle including exercise and proper diet, patients with diabetes can live a normal life. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), there is evidence that suggests COVID-19 puts people with diabetes at a higher risk for severe illness and health complications. For these reasons, it is important for diabetics to control their blood sugar (glucose) levels and maintain a healthy diet with physical activity during the pandemic.


Many patients with diabetes and uncontrolled blood sugar levels were staying away from doctor visits and emergency rooms during the pandemic. The CDC reports that the number of emergency room visits related to blood sugar problems decreased by 10% since the beginning of the pandemic. Avoiding routine doctor appointments and necessary ER visits could be very harmful to an individual’s health and can often lead to further complications.


The AHA says uncontrolled blood sugar levels can weaken the immune system. In addition, sugar levels that remain high for too long can lead to further serious complications such as stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, and eye and vision problems. It is crucial to communicate and follow-up with your doctor to effectively manage hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).


For those patients that have limited access to a doctor during the pandemic, the AHA recommends using Telemedicine to connect with a physician and manage their diabetes. Doctors that are available through this service will determine if the situation can be controlled at home or if a hospital setting is required to manage blood sugar levels that are very high.

During the pandemic, the AHA recommends patients with diabetes take the following steps to keep blood sugar levels under control:

  • Take medications consistently as prescribed by your doctor

  • Keep enough medication on hand and available for use

  • Try to cook more meals at home and avoid takeout foods that are high in sodium and calories

  • Keep stress levels under control, as this can affect blood sugar levels

  • Maintain strong social support networks and healthy relationships

  • Get adequate physical activity (CDC recommends adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking and at least 2 days a week of activities that strengthen muscles)

  • Get enough sleep (seven or more hours per night). Use techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, and listening to music to help with sleep issues.

  • Take precautions to avoid exposure to COVID-19 including washing hands frequently, distancing, mask wearing, and vaccination.

  • Monitor blood glucose levels frequently and make necessary adjustments to insulin and diet to keep levels under control (Refer to the American Diabetes Association recommended blood sugar levels and HbA1c levels).

  • Monitor hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels with your doctor. This test tells you your average level of blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. (This test is also referred to as HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin test, and glycohemoglobin).


 

Speaking Plainly:

  • By living a healthy lifestyle filled with exercise and proper diet, patients with diabetes can live a normal life.

  • According to the American Heart Association, there is evidence that suggests COVID-19 puts people with diabetes at a higher risk for severe illness and health complications.

  • Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can weaken the immune system and if left too high for long periods can lead to further serious health complications.

  • Diabetic patients should take the necessary steps to control blood sugar levels, including taking medication, monitoring glucose and HbA1c levels, eating healthy, exercising, relieving stress, and getting adequate sleep.

  • Communicate and follow-up with your doctor to effectively manage and control high blood sugar levels.