What You Should Know About COVID-19 If You Have Diabetes

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: June 29, 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists people with diabetes among groups at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Early studies indicate about 25% of hospitalized cases with severe COVID-19 infections had diabetes. This risk can increase with older adults and people of any age with other underlying health conditions. In addition, when people with diabetes develop a viral infection, such as COVID-19, it can be harder to treat due to fluctuations in blood glucose levels and other health complications. Thus, it is even more vital to be proactive and take steps to minimize the risk of contracting the virus. We have put together a few tips to help those with diabetes prevent, treat, and care for themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  1. Follow proper precautions.
    The CDC guidelines are a great place to start, which include practicing proper hygiene and avoiding close contact with others when possible. Beyond this, take extra care to keep your blood sugar under control, and test on the schedule recommended by your doctor. Stock your pantry with food, including sufficient healthy carbs and simple carbs. You may also want to order the maximum number of refills allowed of insulin, glucagon, ketone strips, and other medications. Have your medical information, including doctor’s phone number and health insurance, easily accessible and with you at all times.
  2. Have a plan in case you get sick.
    Proactively speak with your doctor about cold and flu medicines that are safe for you to take. If you start feeling sick, stay home and increase your water intake to avoid dehydration. Check your blood sugar more often as illnesses, including COVID-19, can reduce your appetite and potentially affect your levels. Call your doctor if you start experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 such as cough, shortness of breath, fever, or muscle aches. For more information about how COVID-19 impacts people with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association released a list of commonly asked questions and answers.
  3. Prioritize your mental and emotional well-being.
    The CDC notes that people with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have depression than people without diabetes. Heightened stress and anxiety is prevalent during these times, and it can have a big impact on diabetes and blood sugar levels. To help deal with the added stress and anxiety, be sure to eat healthy and exercise. Do things that bring you joy and connect with loved ones regularly. If needed, seek help from a trusted health professional.

This pandemic has affected all of us in different ways. Each of us plays a part in helping our loved ones and communities persevere through these challenging times. For those with diabetes, taking some extra precautions and having a plan in place helps reduce the risks associated with COVID-19.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.