Coronavirus And Diabetes: How To Deal With It?

The global threat of the novel coronavirus epidemic is getting more significant day by day. Each day, we come across the latest news on additional cases, deaths, travel warnings, and economic repercussions. Media is constantly reporting that people with some underlying health conditions are at significant risk of developing serious complications - and diabetes is at the top of the list. 

Are the people with diabetes specifically concerned> If yes, what are the measures they can take to minimize the risk?

We are here with an article curated by analyzing the reports of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and some medical professionals. 


What Is Coronavirus?

According to the CDC, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are very prevalent among animal species, and rarely infect and spread between humans. The infection started in late 2019 with an outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. It has been associated with a market trading seafood and live animals. From there, it has spread across several countries and became a pandemic. 

It was found that most of the infected people were either too old or had some preexisting disease like diabetes, heart disease, lung cancer etc. Therefore, we can conclude that older people and people with some underlying health conditions are at higher risk of developing complications. 

A healthy adult may also get infected with the novel coronavirus. However, he can get recovered soon with supportive care treatment.


What is risk scale of coronavirus if you are diabetic?
 

CDC reports that the incubation period of COVID-19 ranges from 2-14 days, which implies that people can become exposed and transmit the virus for days or weeks before they develop any symptoms. 

Several states, including Michigan, California, Nebraska, and Illinois, have got approval for a coronavirus test health authorities can govern and handle in as less as four days.

CDC is on high alert and expects the virus to be transmitted across the United States of America in the coming days or months. So, Americans should prepare themselves for considerable disruption in their daily lives. 

According to the CDC, it may take up to a year to discover an effective vaccine for the treatment of COVID-19. However, you can expect an antiviral medication to be available to medical professionals within a couple of months. 


Naming The Virus And The Disease

The official names of the virus and the disease are listed below:

Virus

  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2
  • (SARS-CoV-2)

Disease

  • Coronavirus disease
  • (COVID-19)


Why Do The Virus And The Disease Have Different Names?

Generally, the name of the virus and the disease that it causes have different names. People remember the name of the disease and not the virus that causes it. Take the example of a sexually transmitted disease called AIDS. HIV is the virus responsible for creating the infection. 

Similarly, many people know the name of a disease such as measles, but how many of them know that Rubeola virus causes it? 

There are different purposes and processes for naming viruses and diseases. 

Viruses are named after their genetic structure to assist the development of diagnostic tests, medicines and vaccines. Virologists and the broader scientific community perform this work, so viruses are named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).  

Diseases are named to permit discussion on disease prevention, spread, transmissibility, severity and treatment. Human disease preparedness and response is WHO's role, so conditions are officially named by WHO in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).


Do You Have Diabetes? What's Your Risk For COVID-19?

Generally, people with diabetes face a higher risk of complications resulting from viral infections, and this is also true in the case of COVID-19 (according to the American Diabetes Association).

Recommended safety measures are similar to that of the flu, such as frequent washing of hands and covering your sneezes and coughs with a tissue. CDC recommends using face masks only for those who are infected or are taking care of someone infected with the virus.

People with diabetes are at great risk when it comes to things like pneumonia, influenza (flu), and now COVID-19 because when glucose levels are alternating or increased consistently, we have a lower immune response, so we risk getting sicker sooner. There may also be a potential risk of exacerbated illness only due to having diabetes, even if glucose levels are in the normal range.

While there is no proven direct link between diabetes and death from COVID-19, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports on a higher case-fatality rate among those with preexisting conditions:

10.5% for cardiovascular disease

7.3% for diabetes

6.3% for chronic respiratory disease

6.0% for hypertension

5.6% for cancer


Precautions For Everyone

Following are the general precautions for everyone, to avoid the risk of COVID-19:

  • Limit exposure to people who are sick
  • Clean your hands regularly with soap and water for about 20 seconds
  • Stay updated with vaccinations such as the flu and pneumonia shot
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth with hands as it permits the germs causing respiratory infections to enter your body.

Researchers believe that if more air travellers can maintain clean hands, it could slow down the disease transmission rate by several times. 

CDC and other health professionals recommend sick people stay home as much as possible, and avoid visiting any public gatherings. For this reason, several companies in the United States and other parts of the world are updating their Work-from-home policing, and avert unnecessary business travels to minimize the COVID-19 transmission across the nation. 


Getting Prepared For People With Diabetes

People with diabetes (PWD) need to be extra cautious to avoid the risk of the novel coronavirus. Here are specific preparation tips for these people:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and frequently.
  • Don't touch your face before you have washed and dried your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect any objects and surfaces that are touched frequently.
  • Don't share towels, foods, glasses, tools etc.
  • Try to avoid contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness like coughing.
  • Check national travel advice before taking or planning trips.
  • If you have a dry cough, fever, and breathing difficulty, seek medical assistance soon. Make sure to share your travel history(if any) with the healthcare provider.
  • Talk to the doctor via phone or portal before visiting them personally to see what other alternatives you may have. Several clinics have raised their use of telemedicine as visiting a clinic may increase your risk of catching the infection. Contact them and follow the advice of your healthcare professional.


Also Read: An Update On Coronavirus And What To Do

Everyone should have a plan handy in case they or their loved one fall ill. It becomes particularly important for people with diabetes. Your plan should incorporate:


  • Jot down the names and dosage of your medications.
  • Have adequate medication for one-two weeks in case you cannot get to the pharmacy to refill your prescriptions.
  • Have extra supplies such as hand sanitizers, rubbing alcohol, and soap for clean hands.
  • Have glucagon available in case of significantly low blood sugar (if taking medications or insulin that can cause low blood sugar).
  • Keep simple sugars (i.e. glucose tablets) on inventories in case you need to address low blood sugar which may happen more frequently with illness due to modifications to dietary habits.
  • Have ketone strips accessible in case you have type-1 diabetes.


What To Do If You Think You Have The Infection?

Generally, when someone living with diabetes gets sick, keeping blood sugar level under control becomes more difficult. In this case, you should drink plenty of water and stay hydrated, continue to eat, and track blood sugar levels. You can also call your medical professional or local public health office for definite guidelines. Bear in mind that it's crucial to call your provider before going into their clinic if you have a respiratory illness such as coughing and high temperature.


Frequently Asked Questions By PWD (People With Diabetes)

Do I require to do anything differently to the general population living without diabetes regarding coronavirus?

Try reducing the risk of picking up infections, including thoroughly washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, maintaining proper hygiene and preventing contact with people who are sick.   

Coronavirus can bring about more severe symptoms and complications in people with diabetes.

Coronaviruses can cause more serious symptoms and complications in people with diabetes, and in older people, and those with other long-term illnesses such as cancer or chronic lung disease.

According to the NHS website, symptoms and complications can be severe in people with diabetes. Can I die from COVID-19?

Indeed, older people, people with diabetes, and those with some chronic illnesses can experience more severe symptoms and complications. However, the risk of death from this novel coronavirus is quite low, and most of the people will only have mild symptoms. It is vital that people with diabetes follow sick day rules. If you already check your blood pressure at home, you need to do this very frequently, at least every four hours, including at night. 

If your blood pressure is continuously varying from high to low, or if the level remains persistently high, consult your GP, or diabetes team. They can help you in case of any queries or if you are uncertain about what to do regarding your diabetes condition. 

What about my diabetes appointments? Will they be delayed? Should I still go to hospital?

In case of any interruption, you will be informed before your appointment with your GP. Although, if you have symptoms of COVID-19, avoid visiting your GP practice or hospital. Just make a call and let them know the symptoms you're experiencing and follow their instructions. Get advice right away if you are or have been in contact with someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19. 

What should I do if my healthcare specialist is diagnosed with COVID-19?

If you come to know that your healthcare specialist is recently diagnosed with coronavirus or COVID-19, and you have not visited him in the past few days or months, you are less likely to get infected. The risk concerned with any medical professional who becomes infected with coronavirus is evaluated case by case, and appropriate measures are taken. You should follow the guidelines given to you if you are contacted because you may have been exposed to the virus in this way. 

Should I not go to work or see my friends who have travelled from affected areas?

People are recommended to follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - avoid visiting crowded places as much as possible. 

Get the latest updates regarding symptoms, mortality rate, and the total number of cases in different countries, by clicking on the link - https://www.worldometers.info/.

I am a carer of someone with diabetes. Should I be doing something differently? 

No, you just have to follow the basic guidelines to reduce the risk of the infection. It includes washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using an alcohol-based sanitizer, maintaining proper hygiene, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. 


Sources:

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/

https://www.diabetes.ca/

https://www.healthline.com/

https://newsroom.clevelandclinic.org/

https://www.cdc.gov/







Tags : Coronavirus, Coronavirus disease, COVID-19

Henry Garcia

Henry holds a diploma in Linguistics and is fluent in both, written and verbal Spanish. He is an avid reader and loves to stay updated about the healthcare industry. If you are reading about any major breakthrough in the medical field, know that Henry is the one who brought it to you.

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