Reducing COVID-19 exposure

Two of the world’s leading diabetes organizations released guidance on high-impact COVID-19 prevention recommendations for people with diabetes. Members of the diabetes community are among the most vulnerable to severe complications and death caused by the coronavirus.

The recommendations explain how to establish and maintain strict personal hygiene, minimize physical interaction with others, minimize risk when out in public, make work as safe as possible, set yourself up for success with diabetes management, maximize your baseline physical and mental health, and if you get sick to get treated quickly.

Establish and maintain strict personal hygiene. Wash hands every time you come into contact with an out-of-home item or place. Regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home. Avoid touching your face. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a handkerchief. Act as though you have COVID and could pass it on. 

Minimize physical interaction with others. Minimize contact with individuals outside your household. Secure a sufficient amount of food, supplies, and medication to minimize trip frequency as your budget allows. Get them delivered if you can. Seek routine medical care from home: utilize telehealth and mail-order pharmacy options.

Minimize risk when out in public. Maintain a distance of at least 2 meters / 6 feet from others. Wear a cloth mask or face covering. Adjust schedule to avoid busy times in public places. Take advantage of dedicated shopping times for vulnerable individuals if available.  

Make work as safe as possible. Work from home as much as you can. Look into modifications in work procedures to keep 2 meters / 6 feet distance from others. Adjust your schedule to avoid high-traffic times. As physical distance rules are lifted, advocate for flexible work options for high-risk individuals. 

Maximize baseline physical and mental health. If you smoke or vape, stop now. Prioritize rest, hydration, nutrition, physical activity, and virtually socializing with others. Exercise inside or in isolated areas. If you are struggling with mental health, seek online help.

Set yourself up for success with diabetes management. Test blood sugar levels more often; your body may be reacting differently under these new circumstances. Familiarize yourself with how to check for ketones. Check for ketones regularly, regardless of blood sugar levels. Secure a sufficient amount of supplies, including ketone strips and severe hypoglycemia treatment (glucagon). Maintain a routine of physical movement and blood sugar friendly eating. Contact your doctor or health professionals by phone / telehealth if possible for diabetes management questions and concerns. 

If you get sick, get treated quickly. Measure temperature daily with a thermometer and take heart rate with a watch. Track any changes. Never stop taking insulin or other medications, even when you become sick. Discuss insulin dosage changes with a doctor. Know the warning signs of DKA and seek immediate medical attention for symptoms including fruity smelling breath, vomiting, weight loss, dehydration, confusion, and hyperventilation.

These guidelines are endorsed by the American Diabetes Association, Harvard Medical School and The International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD) and can be found at coronavirusdiabetes.org.

If you have diabetes and contract the novel coronavirus, contact your healthcare professional immediately. For more information, visit https://www.diabetesdisasterresponse.org/.

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