There are many things people with diabetes can do to prepare and stay safe even if they live in a coronavirus hot zone. Here are a few tips for diabetics to stay healthy during COVID-19 outbreak.

The novel coronavirus can affect anyone, but experts warned that being a diabetic can increase your risk of contracting infectious diseases. Data suggests that people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and lung problems can develop more severe symptoms if they get COVID-19. Perhaps, it’s entirely valid to be concerned about all of the things involved with the highly infectious novel virus – whether or not you are diabetic.

Why COVID-19 might be risky for people with diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is proving to be more serious than the seasonal flu for diabetics, indicating that people with the condition need to be extra cautious. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that diabetes, smoking and other chronic conditions may increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

“When people having diabetes fail to manage it, then that is the time, they experience fluctuating blood sugars, and are also at the risk of other diabetes-related complications. Hence, having heart disease or other complications along with diabetes can increase the chance of one getting ill from coronavirus, this is so because your body’s ability to fight off an infection is compromised,” said Dr Behram Pardiwala, Internal Medicine Expert, Wockhardt Hospital, South Bombay.

How to stay safe from COVID-19 if you have diabetes

The good news is, there are many things people with diabetes can do to prepare and stay safe even if they live in a coronavirus hot zone:

  1. Stay in touch with your doctor, and see to it that you have an adequate stock of medication and other supplies for monitoring your blood sugar level at home. If you notice fluctuations then immediately consult the doctor.
  2. Monitor your blood sugar levels and temperature regularly.
  3. Stay hydrated, and eat fresh fruits and vegetables to boost immunity.
  4. Social distancing and quarantine (saying no to mass gatherings) can reduce your risk of coronavirus.
  5. Pay close attention to the changes occurring in the body as that could be a sign of infection.

Other general precautions:

  • Practice social distancing – ensure that you’re practicing social distancing at this time, venturing out of your house only when it’s absolutely necessary. You would want to make sure that you keep about six feet between you and others.
  • Maintain good hand hygiene – you must wet your hands properly by applying soap. Then, lather your hands by rubbing them together, including the backs of your hands, between your fingers and your nails. Scrub and rinse your hands and dry them with a disposable paper towel.
  • Wash your hands before cooking, eating or after using the washroom, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Do use a hand sanitizer: When soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitiser can help you get rid of germs and bacteria that are present on the hand. Avoid opting for scented hand sanitizers loaded with chemicals, and also avoid overusing them as it can cause drying of the skin on your hands or may even result in cracking or bleeding.
  • Do cover your mouth while coughing and sneezing or wear a mask.
  • Do not come in contact with those who have a cold or cough.
  • If you have symptoms such as fever, cough, cold or breathlessness, immediately consult your doctor.

The bottom line is, it’s a good idea to be prepared whether you’re dealing with the coronavirus or not. Diabetes is a debilitating condition, but making healthier lifestyle choices, being prepared and staying informed can make a huge difference.