November is Diabetes Awareness Month: Diabetes management during a pandemic

by Angie Mettille, RN/CDE, Diabetes Educator, Veterans Memorial Hospital

Coronavirus cases are surging at an alarming rate in our area. When we turn on the news, we see that people with “underlying health conditions” are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill if contracting COVID-19.

In general, people of any age with types 1 or 2 diabetes, as well as gestational diabetes, are at increased risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with diabetes whose blood sugars are uncontrolled, specifically running higher than target, are more likely to develop additional health problems, such as heart disease and kidney disease. These health concerns, in addition to diabetes, can negatively impact the outcome of a COVID-19 infection for some individuals.

Everyone is at risk for contracting the virus if they have been exposed, but the severity of illness can vary. Some people are requiring hospitalization and even ventilators to help them breathe in intensive care units. Others are noticing minor symptoms such as a stuffy nose and low grade fever.

It is difficult to know how sick you may become with the coronavirus. Since we know diabetes will not magically go away, it is important to realize it can be managed and blood sugars can be controlled. If you contract the virus, you need to be the healthiest person you can be at that time. It is important to make blood sugar management a priority, and be proactive if your numbers are running higher than what is recommended by your healthcare team.

There are many different ways we can manage diabetes. Lifestyle modifications such as stress management, meal planning, and incorporating more physical activity into your routine can be helpful. Sometimes it only takes a minor change to make a significant difference with blood sugars. Medications, either oral or injectable, may play a part in your diabetes management plan. Insulin may be required to keep blood sugars within target range. It is quite possible all of the treatment options above will be necessary for some to keep them as healthy as possible.

Continue to follow public health’s recommendations to stay safe and healthy during this pandemic. Stay home when possible, especially when you are sick. Wear a face covering, practice hand hygiene and social distance when you are out and around others.

There are many aspects of this pandemic that may leave you feeling powerless. Blood sugars are something in your life that you are able to control. If you are having difficulty with your blood sugars or unsure of what your target numbers should be, notify your primary care provider or diabetes educator to help you find ways to regain control of your diabetes and reclaim your health.

For more information, call Diabetes Education at Veterans Memorial Hospital at 563-568-3411, ext. 172.

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