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Managing Diabetes During COVID-19

March 31, 2020
*This is a rapidly changing situation. This video was filmed on March 31, 2020. For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC website at*

Diabetes and COVID-19: GBMC Answers Your Questions

If you’re living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you may be concerned about your risk of contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19). In this interview, Dr. Ruth Horowitz, Chief, Division of Endocrinology at GBMC, answered questions about what precautions you should take and the importance of controlling your blood sugar not only during this pandemic, but all the time.

“The good news is that people with well controlled diabetes are not necessarily at higher risk of contracting COVID-19,” said Dr. Horowitz. “But people with poorly controlled diabetes, whether they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, do appear to not only be at greater risk of contracting it, but they are also are at higher risk for complications from the virus. That’s because in people with elevated blood sugar levels, white blood cells that fight infections may not be as robust. People with poorly controlled diabetes often also have other medical conditions that increase their risk of COVID-19 complications, such as kidney, heart, and lung disease.”

Dr. Horowitz shared her advice on how people with diabetes should prepare for self-isolation or the possibility of falling ill and being unable to get to the pharmacy or grocery store. You should have an adequate supply of all your medications, syringes, and glucose testing supplies to monitor and control your blood sugar levels. She noted that there is no need to stockpile medications because there is no shortage.

It’s also wise to stock up on healthy foods like lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. If you can’t or don’t want to go out, many pharmacies and grocery stores deliver. In addition, some insurance companies are letting members refill prescriptions early to make sure they have the medications and supplies they need. If you have trouble getting your medications, talk to your doctor, who can reach out to the pharmacy and help you get what you need. Not sure how to prepare? The American Diabetes Association has a list of supplies you should have on hand in an emergency.

She also discussed the importance of continuing to get regular exercise while making sure to follow social distancing guidelines as well as the symptoms that could mean you have COVID-19 (dry cough, fever, trouble breathing). If you do fall ill, it’s important to monitor your glucose levels frequently and, if you have type 1 diabetes, to test for high ketone levels. If you’re vomiting and cannot lower your blood sugar levels with medication, contact your physician.

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