The coronavirus global pandemic of 2020 has exposed how vulnerable the human race is, no matter how much progress has been made in the field of medicine and public healthcare. The pandemic has been the largest Public Health and Safety risk since the Second World War and has killed thousands of people across the globe.
Incidentally, Corona-virus is not a single virus but a family of viruses that cause various respiratory conditions ranging from common cold to what caused the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2002 and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2012. This particular strain is deadly, as it mutates very rapidly. That is, when it enters a human body, it genetically alters its structure and multiplies rapidly, and can even transmit from one person to another.
When a person carrying the COVID-19 virus coughs or sneezes, droplets of mucus or saliva containing the virus fall on various surfaces around him/her. When a healthy person touches these droplets, the virus clings to his hand(s) and when the person touches his/her nose or mouth, the virus is ingested or inhaled into the body from where it makes its way to the lungs.
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Diabetics are at risk
Those who are over 60 years of age and with a history of any of these: Cardiovascular Disease, Hypertension, Diabetes, Chronic Lung or Kidney Disease and any immune system disorders, are at a high risk of infection from Covid-19. Incidentally, most deaths in India, and worldwide, come under this category. A large percentage of this constitutes diabetics. This includes all the 3 categories of diabetics – Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational diabetics.
But why are diabetics at more risk? When people with diabetes develop a viral infection, it can be harder to treat due to fluctuations in blood glucose levels for the following reasons:
- The immune system of diabetics is compromised which makes it harder to fight the virus leading to a longer recovery period.
- The virus may thrive in an environment of elevated blood glucose.
Preparing for an emergency
If you are a diabetic or any of your family members, it’s imperative to be prepared for the lockdown period and a possible spike in blood sugar.
- First and foremost, stock up on a few weeks worth of medical supplies. This includes insulin shots, ketone strips, sugar-controlling tablets, and sanitizing alcohol
- It’s very important to monitor sugar levels daily using a Glucometer. If the sugar level is lower or higher than normal, you must seek your physician’s advice.
- In case the regular physician is not reachable, using Telemedicine, you can reach out to qualified doctors and seek their advice.
- It’s very important not to watch news 24×7 and see all Corona-related posts on social media. This can cause panic and panic shoots up blood sugar. Only one source of advice, which is the doctor’s, should be heeded.
How to tackle Hypoglycemia/Hyperglycemia during this period
Needless to say, the diabetic must follow all the safety norms prescribed for healthy people or the general public, in this period.
- Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, as often as possible in the day, especially before eating and after being in public.
- Food, tools, glasses and towels must not be shared with other family members
- Avoid contact with those who are ill, appear to be ill, are coughing or sneezing. Keep away from such people
- If you show any respiratory symptoms, stay at home and inform your family members and regular doctor of the illness.
- While sneezing or coughing, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or with the crook of your elbow. Then throw the tissue in a bin.
- Avoid unprotected contact with pets, wildlife and farm animals.
- If you are a diabetic and live alone, you may have to step out to buy essentials. Avoid crowded shops and also maintain a distance of 1 meter from others around you.
Diet and Exercise
Diet and Exercise play a key role in keeping the sugar levels in control.
- A healthy balanced diet is essential as recommended by dieticians. If you are not acquainted with a dietician, you can search for dieticians in your local area, using the Internet and then speak to them over phone. Small and frequent meals are important and they should contain green leafy vegetables as often as possible. Avoid anything white like sugar and maida. It’s important to have a diet rich in fibre and low in fat. When it comes to fruits, apple and papaya are allowed, while mango and banana should be avoided. Follow a Rainbow diet, which includes green vegetables.
- Physical exercise is of utmost importance to diabetics during the lockdown period as well as in general. You can do walking and stretching exercises within your house as often as you can without straining yourself too much.
- Ensure you are well hydrated at all times. Drink plenty of plain water, soups and beverages without sugar
Various media channels are constantly giving you the news that more and more cases of Corona virus are reported every day. Although Diabetics are at a higher risk, there is no need to panic as COVID-19 is not a deadly virus. 81% of the cases show mild symptoms, 14% show moderate symptoms and in only 5% of the cases, the condition is severe or fatal. Further, many people tested positive have recovered quickly.
Diabetics who have a fairly good immunity level and good control of their sugar levels need not worry. Stay prepared, stay at home and follow the precautions described above. Rest assured, you will come out of the crisis with little hassle.