Coronavirus has disrupted life as we know it, but as the quarantine continues, patients with diabetes can take a proactive role in their own health. Though diabetic patients don’t have greater chances of contracting the virus, they have a greater likelihood of complications if they do get sick, especially if their diabetes is uncontrolled. By planning ahead and preparing for a variety of possibilities, you can protect yourself and ensure your continued health.
Aside from practicing social distancing and good hygiene, patients with diabetes should work hard to control their glucose, because fluctuating or elevated levels diminish immune responses. Focus on staying hydrated, too, because water is vital to health.
In addition to those universal steps, make the following preparations while you’re still healthy.
- Gather your healthcare information, including phone numbers, for your pharmacist, healthcare providers, and insurance providers. Make a list of your medications and supplements, including doses, so you don’t have to find the information if you become ill.
- Order extra refills of your prescriptions to avoid gaps in your care. Because almost every state in the U.S. has declared a state of emergency, this option should be readily available to diabetes patients. If you aren’t able to get to the pharmacy, call your pharmacist to coordinate the delivery of your medications.
- Maintain at least one week’s worth of insulin at all times. If you are struggling to find or pay for insulin, visit the American Diabetes Association’s InsulinHelp.org site to find help.
- Buy extra rubbing alcohol and soap, if possible, to ensure you can practice good hygiene.
- Purchase glucagon and ketone strips to monitor lows and highs.
- Stockpile simple carbs like regular soda, honey, Jell-O, candies, popsicles, or jams to help you maintain glucose levels if you are at risk for lows.
- Contact your healthcare provider to clarify when you should call if you have concerns, and whether you should adjust your current practices. Verify whether virtual visits will be possible if the need arises.
- Coordinate with a trusted friend or family member who can help if you need groceries delivered or if you become sick. Choose someone who knows your history of diabetes.
Above all, your best strategy rests in the prevention and your ability to avoid high-risk behaviors.
- Avoid high-touch surfaces in public places like elevators, public restrooms, or grocery stores. If possible, use a tissue or a sleeve to avoid touching them. When you must touch them, wash your hands thoroughly.
- Avoid crowds in poorly-ventilated spaces. Realize that masks are no guarantee of protection, so be selective about your movements.
- Clean and disinfect your home, especially on surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, toilets, and faucets.
- Routinely disinfect your cell phone.
- If you live with other people, maintain distance as much as possible. Use a separate bathroom and avoid sharing household items like towels.
- Use caution when handling soiled laundry, especially in houses with multiple people.
It’s difficult to completely avoid any risk of exposure during this time of quarantine, especially as the weeks of isolation continue. Patients with diabetes who focus on preparedness will be better equipped to prevent exposure and cope if they become ill.
Continue to take your normal steps to control your diabetes, and then be even more vigilant, recognizing that uncontrolled glucose impacts your body’s ability to fight illness. Stay connected to a network of people who can encourage and support you during this difficult time, and offer the same to others around you. This situation won’t last forever.