Here’s why Diabetes could weaken your immunity against Covid-19

The novel Coronavirus pandemic has gripped the globe in terror. With the reported cases surpassing 2.4 million worldwide as at publication date, questions of how this can affect the vulnerable groups of the society arise. As per WHO, the elderly and persons with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes and respiratory conditions are at a greater risk of developing severe illness.

What is the cure to COVID-19

The cure to COVID-19 appears elusive. Healthcare services have been pushed to breaking point. Thus, the effect on diabetic patients is two way. One is the increased risk of experiencing severe complications from COVID-19. The other is the lack of emergency medical attention that can be allocated for the elderly. Hence, it is imperative that precautionary measures are taken to ensure your wellbeing.

How Corona Virus can affect people with diabetes

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

Everyone with diabetes, including those with type 1, type 2 and gestational, is at risk of developing a severe illness if they get coronavirus, but the way it affects you can vary from person to person.

When you have diabetes, being ill can make your blood sugar levels increase. Your body tries to fight the illness by releasing stored glucose (sugar) into your blood stream to give you energy. But your body can’t produce insulin to cope with this, so your blood sugars rise.

Your body is working overtime to fight the illness, making it harder to manage your diabetes. This triggers complications of diabetes, which means you’re more at risk of having serious blood sugar highs and lows, as well as longer-term problems with your eyes, feet, kidney and other areas of your body.

For most people, coronavirus is a mild illness, but some people develop a more serious form of the virus, and could die.

Lifestyle changes for a diabetic is essential

Positive lifestyle changes benefit diabetic patients. A healthy diet and regular exercise to maintain weight is likely to help persons with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Since physical movement is restricted, develop workout routines at home. This includes activities that are equivalent to an hour of brisk walking and stretching exercises such as yoga. However, it is crucial to consult your doctor before you begin a new exercise regime. Embracing technology is useful to interact with your doctor and obtain timely pharmaceutical supplies via online methods hassle-free. This reduces the risk of exposing yourself to COVID-19.

Will diet changes improve immunity?

A diet change includes not only the type of food you eat, but also the portions. A busy schedule and stress from work and the daily run would prompt us to have more of a certain group and less of another. A balanced diet would benefit especially a diabetic to stay strong and increase immunity, especially during times when we are vulnerable for the Corona Virus. However, before you make radical changes to your diet, it’s important to consult your doctor or a Nutritionist first.

Most of the steps recommended to stay safe from Corona Virus are the same as for the rest of the world such as washing hands with soap, staying home, maintaining a 2 meter distance with others as well as sanitising objects and surfaces that you come in regular contact with. It also means being observant of any other cues your body gives you. According to research, a loss of sense of taste and smell is an indication of respiratory issues.

A proactive approach is the best course of action to build immunity against Corona Virus if you are diabetic:

  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations.
  • Remain hydrated.
  • Stay alert by monitoring your blood glucose level and temperature at home. This reduces your exposure to healthcare centres.
  • Ensure adequate stock of insulin is available at hand.
  • Use a face mask if you or a family member develop symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Fever with cough or breathing difficulties are signs that require you to contact medical professionals for advice.
Notable Symptoms of Covid-19

If you think you have the Corona Virus of you have been exposed to someone who was recently diagnosed with Corona Virus:

  • Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
  • If you live alone, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. 
  • If you live with someone who has a continuous cough or a high temperature, you should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you then develop symptoms, you should stay at home for 7 days from the day your symptoms start, even if it means you’re at home for longer than 14 days.
  • Follow the advice of your GP practice, practice nurse or diabetes team regarding your medication.
  • If you routinely check your blood sugar at home you’ll probably need to do it more often.
  • If you don’t check your blood sugar levels at home, be aware passing more urine than normal (especially at night), being very thirsty, headaches, tiredness and lethargy. You should contact your doctor or a General Physician if you have hyper symptoms. 
  • Stay hydrated – have plenty of unsweetened drinks and eat little and often.
  • Keep eating or drinking – if you can’t keep food down, try snacks or drinks with carbohydrates in to give you energy. Letting fizzy drinks go flat may help keep them down. If you’re vomiting, or not able to keep fluids down, get medical help as soon as possible.

If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, call an emergency hot line or get in touch with a doctor immediately.

If you are pregnant and have diabetes

The same rules apply to you as for everyone with diabetes. If you’re pregnant and have diabetes, then you are more at risk of getting the virus. This is because you’re more vulnerable to getting infections and illnesses. It’s really important you follow the rules on staying at home.

Bottomline: while we stay at home during these times, it is also important to create an entire eco system around us to prevent infections and stay sanitized. Let’s hope our families will be safe and healthy right through, and remain positive to see the light at the end of the tunnel.            

References:

Q&A on Corona Virus, World Health Organisation, https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

Advice for people at higher risk, National Health Service, UK, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/advice-for-people-at-high-risk/

Image: shorturl.at/fltzF

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