At the outset, it must be admitted that COVID-19 being a new medical issue, there is not much data about the connection between this viral infection and diabetes. The most important factor to keep in mind, however, is to avoid infections and maintain good control of diabetes at all times.
Diabetes patients should aim to keep the fasting blood sugar below 110 mg/dl and the after meals blood sugar levels below 160 mg/dl. Elderly people can have blood sugar 10 to 20 per cent above these levels.
The best way to monitor sugar levels
is to have a reliable blood glucose monitor at home and monitor the fasting and after meals blood sugar twice a week. People on insulin should check more often. If there is a wide fluctuation in the blood sugar level, it is now possible to have a sensor attached to the skin and do a bloodless ambulatory glucose monitoring, which gives more than 1000 readings over a 14 day period.
Maintaining a good control of diabetes helps to build one’s immunity to fight infections. There are a number of adult vaccinations that have been advised for people with diabetes. The flu vaccine and the pneumonia vaccine are the two common vaccinations advised for people with diabetes.
There are a number of newer oral and injectable medications available in India today to effectively control the blood sugar levels.
Specific Covid-19 precautions for people with diabetes:
During the lockdown: Keep enough stock of your oral antidiabetic medications, insulin, blood glucose strips, special pouch for keeping the insulin, the tablets available to treat a low sugar reaction, special diabetic footwear, medications for other conditions like hypertension and for blood vessels and for the heart.
Who is more at risk? People with diabetes and other co-morbid conditions like asthma, heart failure, raised serum creatinine and those who smoke cigarettes and those above the age of 65 years may be at higher risk and so should take more care.
Don’t miss out on your exercise: Even if you are forced to be inside your house, please find the time and space to do some simple exercises like stretching, walking and yoga for at least 30 minutes in a day. This will help you maintain the ideal blood sugar levels.
Avoid high-calorie snacks: It is better to avoid high-calorie snacks that have more calories and salt.
What should you stock in plenty? Stock more vegetables like cucumber, fruits like apple and orange, healthy snacks or a good health drink to take when you feel hungry mid-morning or in the evening.
7 hours of sleep: It is very necessary to get undisturbed sleep for at least 7 hours to ease the mind and have a proper control of diabetes.
Avoid panic: A number of people with diabetes are worried that they are more prone to this virus. The first thing is to get this thought out of the mind. Such negative
thoughts will raise the blood sugar levels. So please learn to avoid panic and be calm during this period and positive energy will automatically come to you.
Dr Vijay Viswanathan
MD PhD FRCP [London]
Head and Chief Diabetologist
MV Hospital for Diabetes and
Prof M Viswanathan Diabetes Research Centre Royapuram Chennai
National Vice President of RSSDI [Research Society for Study of
Diabetes in India]