The coronavirus outbreak has intensified healthcare urgency across the world, pushing millions of people under the closed confinements of their homes. The novel virus has raised an infinity of questions about our physical and mental health, creating a lot of added restlessness amidst people who have already been suffering from some or the other type of respiratory and metabolic disorders.
One such health condition is Diabetes – a chronic metabolic disorder that causes the blood sugar levels to rise higher than the normal. In fact, patients suffering from diabetes have been in the spotlight right since the inception of the pandemic, and researchers have believed that people with uncontrolled or unmanaged diabetes are at a higher risk of severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19 than others.
What Makes Diabetics More Vulnerable to COVID-19 Outcomes?
Caused by novel coronavirus, COVID-19 is a mild-to-severe respiratory infection that spreads from person to person through close association or contact. Appearing between 2 and 14 days, its symptoms include cough, fever, shortness of breath, diarrhea and body pain. While anyone can get infected by the novel coronavirus, people with metabolic disorders like diabetes are more vulnerable to severe illness than others. In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) puts diabetics (with controlled blood sugar) at a 1.6 times higher risk of complications due to COVID-19, with the risk increasing as glucose control worsens. But what makes diabetics more vulnerable to COVID-19 outcomes?
Well, there are multiple reasons for it.
1. Compromised Immune System
The immune system of diabetics is already in its compromised state. That’s because hyperglycemia impairs host defense to fight infections. Simply put, the high blood sugars in the body interfere with the white blood cells’ ability to fight infection, making it difficult for their immune system to fight coronavirus virus. This, in turn, may lead to serious health complications like pneumonia, acute metabolic dysfunctions, prolonged recovery, and even death.
2. A Constant High Blood Glucose Environment
It has been found that the COVID-19 virus thrives well in a raised blood glucose environment. Since people with uncontrolled diabetes have constant high levels of blood sugar in their bodies, they provide COVID-19 virus a perfect environment to thrive and cause disease.
3. Constant State of Inflammation
Diabetes keeps our body in a constant low state of inflammation. This makes our body’s healing process slow and more vulnerable to serious infections caused by coronavirus. It also makes the recovery process slow and complicated.
Preparation and Prevention Are the Only Way to Stay Protected
When dealing with coronavirus, or any other infectious disease, prevention is always better than cure. This stands especially true for people with diabetes and other comorbid health conditions. Follow these steps to stay protected:
1. Minimize Your Risk of Contracting a COVID-19 Infection
Strictly follow the CDC recommendations to minimize your risk of contracting the virus.
- Stay at home: Try to stay at home as much as possible. Limit your visits to social settings that may increase your risk of infection.
- Wear a mask in public: When out and about, don’t forget to cover your nose and mouth with a face mask. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose and face with dirty hands.
- Wash/ sanitize your hands frequently: Regularly wash your hands, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean and germ-free.
- Practice social distancing: When meeting someone, maintain at least a six feet distance to avoid contracting virus through air droplets.
2. Stay Healthy and Active
Don’t let pandemic dampen your active lifestyle.
- Make healthy food choices: Choose diabetic-friendly, nutrient-dense food over high caloric junk. Make sure to eat at regular intervals; however, avoid overindulging. Include eggs, beans, green leafy vegetables, nuts, citrus fruits, fish, meat and legumes in your diet.
- Stay Active: The pandemic has shut us all inside our houses. But this should not prevent you from following an active lifestyle routine. Walk inside your living room, try to do body weight exercises, and get up often and move. Yoga, cardio, aerobics, and body-weight strength training are all good ways to stay healthy and active, without the need of going out.
- Take your medicines consistently and on time: Don’t miss out on your medicines. Take them regularly and on time. If you are struggling to keep up, set a timer or make it a part of your meal schedule.
3. Stay Prepared
Arm yourself with all the necessary tools and information.
- Stock up your medicines: Ensure sufficient supply of your diabetes essentials – insulin, testing kit, glucose tablets, and more. make sure to keep at least one month of supply with you to avoid last minute rush.
- Continue routine diabetes care: It is important for diabetics to keep their blood sugar levels and blood pressure under check. Regularly check your blood sugar levels and contact your primary health care physician if your blood sugar levels are not under control.
- Prioritize your emotional well-being: The lockdowns and COVID-19 situations can cause an unprecedented distress, affecting our emotional and mental well-being. People with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have depression. To ensure your emotional well-being, indulge in things that make you happy. Breathe in deeply, indulge in a hobby, and find newer ways to stay happy. Use technology to stay connected with your loved ones and talk to your doctor if you feel saddened and depressed.
- Stay in touch with your healthcare team: Make sure to stay in touch with your primary healthcare physician to ensure regular checkups and follow-ups. If you’re uncomfortable with in-person visits, virtual appointments can serve the purpose.
4. Get your COVID-19 shot on time
Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from the complexities caused by COVID-19 virus. So, make sure to get your COVID-19 vaccination shot on time. It is absolutely safe and highly important.
At EPIC Health, we are providing COVID-19 vaccination to people 18 years and above. Call us at 248-336-4000 to book your COVID-19 vaccination slot right away. At EPIC, we help people live a Healthier, Happier and Better Life.