Letal Garber, MS, RD, LD

Diabetes and Covid-19: What you need to know and tips on management

During a time of uncertainty, it’s easy to get stressed or panicked. Our practice stands by our philosophy that knowledge is power; the more informed you are, the better chances of a good outcome. Our goal is to propagate safety and minimize fear during this difficult time.

Here’s what we know about the connection of Covid-19 and Diabetes:

  1. People may be infected with the virus up to two weeks before developing symptoms.
  2. The most common symptoms are fever, fatigue, and cough.
  3. Most people recover from the virus, but the disease can be more dangerous to those who have chronic conditions such as Diabetes.
  4. This is especially true with pre-existing complications secondary to uncontrolled Diabetes, which could mean increased risk of infection and difficulty with healing due to poor circulation.
  5. If Diabetes is well managed, your risk of getting severely sick from Covid-19 is about the same as the general population.

Here’s what you can do to reduce your risk:

  1. General:
    1. Follow government and state guidelines for dealing with Covid-19.
    1. Do your part by staying home, wash hands, avoid touching your face, sneeze in tissues or your elbow, and sanitize commonly used surfaces.
    1. Practice social distancing and minimize contact with others.
      1. Keep your appointments by scheduling virtual visits! We are now offering telemedicine appointments with a simple click of a button. You can join the virtual appointment by clicking on the link sent to you via email or text. For those of you with upcoming appointments, if you don’t hear from us first, give us a call to change the visit to a virtual meeting.
  2. Medication Management:
    1. Make sure you maintain a stockpile of oral medications and/or insulin and keep these properly stored.
    1. Also keep enough inventory of testing supplies (test strips, lancets), ketone strips, alcohol wipes, glucose tablets and/or sugar-containing fluids such as juice for low blood sugars.
    1. You may want to ask for 90-day prescriptions with refills versus the typical 30-day prescription.
    1. Ask your insurance if they contract with mail order pharmacies to reduce need to leave the house.
    1. If you’re having difficulty affording your medication, investigate patient assistance programs and resources such as InsulinHelp.org. If you’re running low on insulin and/or can’t afford insulin, don’t go without it. Wal-Mart has mealtime and 24-hour insulin that doesn’t require a prescription, just ask your provider.
    1. Keep a stock of broth, jello, electrolyte drinks, canned or frozen foods in the event of acute illness.
  3. Lifestyle Management:
    1. Monitor your blood sugars regularly and send in your blood sugar data to your provider for adjustment of your medications.
    1. Aim for 3 balanced meals per day with lean protein such as beans, chicken, fish, nuts/seeds, complex carbs (whole wheat pasta, baked potato, peas), and many vegetables. Stay hydrated with water.
    1. Limit high carb snacks, chips, dessert and beverages and fried foods.
    1. Engage in “joyful movement” most days of the week (30 minutes of moderate activity 5 times per week at minimum). Think about what activities you enjoy: walking, aerobics, biking and stick to it!
    1. Practice self-care in order to manage stress and improve mental health. Be intentional about finding ways to relax whether it’s reading a new book, practicing a new skill, or simply listening to calming music.

We can’t change the fact that this pandemic has impacted the world. What we can change is the extent to which we inform ourselves and make choices that improve our wellbeing. Stay informed, calm, safe, and healthy and we hope to hear from you soon!