People lives changed rapidly with the onset of the coronavirus, the virus behind the COVID-19. While the World Health Organization recognized the situation as a pandemic in March of 2020, the US’s primary known cases appeared in late January on the west coast. After originating in China in late 2019, the virus quickly made its way to the entire planet at record speed. Fast forward to today, and we still are looking for so many answers regarding this virus and the disease it causes. As of now, no vaccine available to treat COVOID-19. Doctors treat the symptoms as they appear; since it’s a novel coronavirus, meaning it is a new virus, there are many things about it that we still don’t fully understand.
Having a chronic condition like diabetes increases the risk if you contracted COVID-19. Follow along to take a look at what we already know and what you should do and avoid if you have diabetes.
What Is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new medical condition caused by a novel coronavirus, a new strain of the existing virus that causes diseases like MERS and SARS. It is a respiratory illness that also targets various other organ systems.
COIVD-19 is traveling at such incredible speeds because it transmits through respiratory droplets. An infected person can spread the virus via coughing, sneezing, laughing, talking, or breathing.
You can also contract the COVID-19 by touching a virus-infected surface with your hand and then touching or wiping your mouth, nose, or eyes.
The common COVID-19 symptoms include:
- Nausea and diarrhea
- Loss of smell or taste
- Body aches and pains
- Chills or fever
- Dry cough
- Stuffy or runny nose
COVID-19 symptoms in more severe cases:
- Bluish lips
- Mental confusion
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
While these are the symptoms to look for to detect COVID-19, some people don’t experience or exhibit any signs of infection, but they can still spread the virus to others. Some people might experience mild symptoms that resemble a cold, while others may get a multitude of severe symptoms.
COVID-19 can cause neurological changes, systemic organ inflammation with kidney damage, acute respiratory distress syndrome, resulting in death.
Who Is At Highest Risk?
Health experts consider some specific groups at higher risk of developing COVID-19. These are the people aged 65 or above, those with the compromised immune system because of Lupus, HIV, thyroid disease, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, target therapy, or immunotherapy.
The other group that is more prone to develop COVID-19 are the people with obesity or other chronic illnesses, including lung disease, heart disease, liver disease, asthma, type 1 or 2 diabetes.
What Are The Tests Currently Available?
Your doctor can make you undergo any of the two available tests for COVID-19. In consultation with the primary healthcare provider, the state and local health departments decide which test to prescribe. You can get tested at numerous testing sites, as the scarcity of testing equipment is now not an issue.
If you believe that you came into contact with someone with COVID-19 and needs testing, try contacting your healthcare provider, they will refer you to the right site to get tested.
The following are the two tests available for COVID-19:
The viral test determines if a person has a current infection. This test requires nasal swabs, which travel deep into the nasal cavity, or the healthcare professional can take the saliva to look for viral genetic material. This test’s result comes fast. It takes a few minutes to a few hours to confirm if a person has contracted the virus.
The antibody test shows if a person previously had the COVID-19. The healthcare professional takes a blood sample for conducting the antibody test.
This testing method is not fool-proof, and doctors don’t recommend it because it can show false positives and false negatives. Experts are not 100% sure if being infected once means that people can’t contract COVID-19 again. Healthcare authorities are still figuring out the best use for antibody information.
What Are The Specific Concerns For People With Diabetes?
Diabetes does not make you more prone to COIVD-19, but it does increase the complications if you ever catch COVID-19. While there is no discernible way to tell if a person will experience mild, moderate, severe, or deadly symptoms after contracting coronavirus disease, having diabetes might worsen the COVID-19 symptoms.
The following are the reasons why diabetes can make COVID-19 worse:
- can cause blood flow and circulation problems, which slows down the natural healing process.
- The out of control blood sugars or hyperglycemia decreases the immune response, which means that your body might not control the viral pathogens’ spread.
- After contracting the virus, you can experience dehydration through sweating, fever, and vomiting, increasing blood sugar, making defending against the virus more difficult.
- COVID-19 might also damage pancreatic islet cells, responsible for producing insulin, and in the process, increase the blood sugar levels.
- Diabetes might also be a factor in a higher rate of uncontrollable inflammatory responses and pneumonia when paired with COVID-19.
- COVID-19 can make you go through an acute stress response that will pour out hormones that can raise blood sugar levels.
What To Do And Avoid With COVID-19 And Diabetes
Because there is no vaccine available yet to treat COVID-19, the best you can do is learn about the ways to stay safe and avoid contracting the virus. According to experts, we might have to wait till the middle of 2021 for a viable vaccine against the COVID-19. While looking for COVID-19 information online, be aware of the fake claims about instant cures and remedies. Don’t fall for false advertising because there is no scientifically proven cure for COVID-19.
The following are what a person should do and avoid during this COVID-19 pandemic.
- Inform your healthcare provider right away if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms or if you feel like you might have gotten exposed to the virus. COVID-19 symptoms start to appear anywhere after 2-14 days from the exposure. So, the timing is crucial for managing the infection, especially if you have diabetes.
- Try to wash your hands for not less than 20 seconds using warm water and soap multiple times a day. Ensure washing between the finger, under the nails, and on the back of your palm. Use paper or cloth towels to dry your hands thoroughly. If you don’t have access to soap and water, try using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
- Wash your hands more often than previously. It includes washing before and after checking for blood sugar levels, before every finger stick, changing sensor or tubing, taking insulin injection or oral medication. Also, wash your hands before mealtime or food preparation, after every trip to the bathroom, holding packages or mail, handing groceries, playing with pets. Be extra careful while touching foreign objects or things frequently handled by others in your house.
- Try doing things online as much as possible. The risk is still very high when going out to stores even though they have guidelines for proper safety measures. Getting exposed to a large group of people increases your likelihood of catching the virus. You can order groceries, medications, and other essentials online and get them delivered right at your doorsteps. Many stores are providing the free shipping option; you can make use of that.
- Try to work from home when possible. Use Zoom, Facetime, Skype, or other services.
- If you have to visit a public place, then don’t forget to wear a face mask. The CDC recommends using a cloth mask, which is about 77% effective against the new coronavirus. The N95 maks can get rid of up to 95% of the small and large particles, but they don’t much of a difference for the general public. Paper, disposable, and surgical masks only filter out large particles and are not suitable for use more than once, making them quite expensive.
- Experts currently recommend using a 3-layered cloth mask that fits comfortably over the nose, mouth, and chin with ear loops. You can wash it in hot water, air dry, and reuse it. When purchasing a mask, make sure to go for the one that has a filter for added protection. You can order additional filters online. When removing the cover from your face, make sure to hold it by the ear loops. Do not touch anywhere on your face before washing your hands once you removed the mask.
- You can also use a face shield in addition to a mask. However, using a face shield without a face cover does not provide any security against the virus. When used correctly, a face shield can protect your eyes from secretions and droplets. Always clean your face shield with an anti-bacterial wipe after removing it.
- Practice social distancing, which means staying at least 6 feet away from others. This practice is one of the most crucial measures that can help reduce the spread of the virus.
- Use a tissue while blowing your nose or sneezing, throw away the tissue immediately and wash your hands. If you don’t have access to tissue, sneeze into your elbow.
- When cleaning and using disinfectants, make sure to wear a face mask and rubber gloves for protection. Ensure there is adequate ventilation while using cleaning products to avoid lung irritation. Make sure frequently touched surfaces like countertops, faucets, handles, light switches, toilet flushers, and doorknobs get thoroughly wet with disinfectant before drying them.
- Use wipeable covers on frequently touched objects like phones, TV remotes, and computer keyboards as much as possible.
- Try using a dishwasher instead of handwashing the dishes, cups, bowls, glasses, and silverware. Use hot water to kill germs. Also, do your laundry on the hottest setting and use a laundry sanitizer. Try washing towels and sheets more frequently.
- Stock up on essential supplies such as sugar-free cough and cold medications, tissues, fever meds like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Get a no-touch thermometer, digital scale, blood pressure cuff, and a fingertip pulse oximeter available for personal testing. Try reporting all the findings to your doctor.
- Make sure you have extra diabetes testing strips, medicines, and a list of emergency phone numbers with you. Make sure to stock up on ketone strips and glucagon if you have type 1 diabetes. Continue testing blood glucose levels frequently. Keep a one-page health history posted in your home. Maintain a support network to check on you every day, especially if you live alone.
- Talk to your doctor about telemedicine visits, which might work best if your diabetes is adequately under control. These visits can occur every three months.
- Try maintaining your mental health by listing to music, doing mediation, joining online support groups, using essential oils, lighting soy candles, etc. It is crucial to look after your psychological health because depression and anxiety can severely increase during this period.
- Figure out what soothes you and use that often. If you want, try scheduling an appointment with a psychologist online because stress management is critical. If you experience problems regarding your mental health, talk to a specialist about taking medications that might provide some help.
- Try maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a proper sleep schedule, daily aerobic exercise, and a balanced diet. Good lifestyle habits can strengthen the immune system to help fight against the virus and bacteria.
- Stock up healthy and nutritious food. If you cannot find fresh vegetables and fruits, buy frozen ones. Get complex carbohydrates rich foods like crackers, whole-grain bread, oatmeal, couscous, etc. Also, find simple carbohydrates like glucose tablets or boxed fruit juices for hypoglycemia. Try eating seeds, canned beans, nuts, and legumes. Use canola or olive oil for cooking. Eat lean proteins with spices and herbs, and stay hydrated with plain water.
- Ask a doctor about checking your vitamin D levels to prevent deficiency-related problems. Low vitamin D levels can impair your immune system. Foods like egg yolks, fortified milk, and salmon are rich in vitamin D. Also, try getting plenty of sunshine and fresh air for a natural boost of vitamin D. While vitamin D deficiency can cause problems, there is no evidence that its supplements could prevent or treat COVID-19.
- Stay at your house if you feel sick, and also avoid meeting those who are unwell.
- Eating hot peppers or hot sauce will not kill or cure the virus. Claims like these are the misinformation that you should ignore and refrain from spreading.
- Don’t consume garlic solutions or saltwater because they don’t have any anti-viral properties.
- Refrain from ingesting cleaning agents like rubbing alcohol, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide. It might sound bizarre, but people have been doing this to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19.
- CBD products do not prevent or treat COVID-19. There is no medical research or study by the FDA that supports CBD products for immunity purposes. If you are using CBD supplements, make sure to inform your doctor.
- Avoid smoking because it weakens your immune system.
- Refrain from drinking alcohol in excess because it can impair your immunity.
- Avoid frequent visits to places with large crowds. Limit the exposure as much as possible. COVID-19 cases are still on the rise, and people with diabetes and other pre-existing conditions should stay safe. If you have to visit someplace, make sure to wear a mask and follow social distancing protocol.
- Avoid taking public transport as much as possible. If you don’t have another choice, try going off-hours and keep a sanitizer with you. Make sure to wash your hands immediately after getting back home.
- Try not to live in perpetual fear and panic. Knowledge can give you power, so seek answers to your questions and be upto date with all the new developments by following your local health authorities, CDC, and the WHO.
COVID-19 spread rapidly in the early part of 2020. We all are experiencing monumental changes in our day to day lives and are still unsure what the future might bring. Don’t forget that lack of information and misinformation are the most dangerous things in these uncertain times. Stay informed from reliable sources and be prepared, and most importantly, stay safe.