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What should I know about Diabetes and COVID-19?

April 9, 2020
Published in: COVID-19, Diabetes

Senior woman placing a pill in her mouth

This is an unsettling time for many people, especially for people who have existing medical conditions such as diabetes. So if you have diabetes, whether you are concerned or not, it's good to take steps to be prepared and get some information on your increased risk for complications from COVID-19.

What Can I Do to be Prepared?

Everyone has their own diabetes treatment plan, but here are some general preparation guidelines based on the American Diabetes Association recommendations. You should have:

  1. Extra supplies on-hand (rubbing alcohol, hand soap, blood glucose testing strips, needles, etc.)
  2. Quick carbs to treat lows (glucose tablets, hard candy, honey, or juice are great options)
  3. Enough insulin and medication for at least 1 to 2 weeks—refill before it gets below that!
  4. Stockpile of shelf-stable healthy foods

So here are a few tips:

Check what supplies you have. Do you have enough insulin for at least 1 to 2 weeks? Check prescription and expiration dates for all supplies. Contact your physician to refill prescriptions if needed. Fill prescriptions at least 2 weeks prior running out of supplies in case there are unexpected delays.

What is My Risk Related to Coronavirus if I Have Diabetes?

People who have diabetes are not more likely to get the disease. However, people who have diabetes have more risk for serious symptoms if they do contract a virus. The good news? Managing your diabetes—staying well-controlled—by following the plan prescribed for you by your physician and certified diabetes educators can help you reduce your risk.

If I Get Sick, What Should I Do?

  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Check blood sugar more often than normal (every 2-3 hours)—watch for highs and lows:
    • If LOW (below 70mg/dl or your target range): eat 15 grams of carbs (like 4 ounces of juice or regular soda, or 3-4 glucose tablets, or 5-6 hard candies). Wait 15 minutes. If you feel better, eat a snack (like cheese & fruit, peanut butter & crackers or a granola bar). If you don't feel better, repeat the process (15 grams of carbs, wait 15 minutes, follow with a snack).
    • If HIGH (>240mg/dl) 2x in a row, call your doctor's office. Having a virus makes you more at risk for DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis). Contacting your doctor's office soon can help you avoid that.
  • Wash your hands and clean your injection/infusion and finger stick sites with soap and water or rubbing alcohol, as always!

If You Have Questions

Please contact the Augusta Health Diabetes Educators at (540) 941-2537 or email mc2230220 [at] augustahealth.com