New Delhi: It has been well established in the last six months since the start of the pandemic that the Covid-19 virus has a greater health impact on diabetic individuals versus the non-diabetic healthy population. While people with diabetes are not more prone to getting the disease, those who suffer from Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes have been found to have more severe reactions or complications to the Coronavirus. This is because diabetic individuals, especially in those with poorly managed diabetes already have a compromised immune system and a viral infection can easily turn deadly for them. In people with poorly managed blood sugar, there will be swelling or inflammation within the body, which can get exacerbated by a viral infection.
Such individuals must take extra care in order to safeguard themselves during this time, especially with the festival season going, people with diabetes must be careful of what they eat and keep their blood sugar levels in check. You don’t have to completely avoid festive foods, however, ensure that you eat within limits, and look for satisfying recipes and food items that do not cause an unnecessary spike in blood sugar.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is an example of one of the serious complications that a person with diabetes may face if they suffer from serious Covid-19. This is a condition where the blood becomes acidic beyond normal levels due to the excessive production of ketones in the body. At high levels, ketones are poisonous for the body. If diabetes is left unchecked, a person may suffer from this complication – however, when a viral infection such as Covid-19 strikes, the risk of developing this becomes higher. It typically occurs in Type 1 diabetes, but since it develops slowly, depending on the severity of the body’s reaction to Covid-19, any type of diabetes could suffer from this complication. Signs of DKA include developing sudden fruity-smelling breath, urgent need to urinate, thirsty feeling, confusion, tiredness, nausea, etc. A simple urine or blood test can help check the level of ketones in the body.
Tips to manage diabetes during the festive season
- Diabetic individuals, in particular, must take precautions to avoid Covid-19 virus. It is best that such people stay with family who do not need to venture out too often to reduce the risk of the virus entering the house.
- Keep the immune system strong and healthy. Regularly monitor blood sugar levels and stay aware of any early symptoms of Covid-19
- Do not try to self-treat Covid-19 at home. Consult your doctor as there may be a change in insulin and other medications if you have contracted the virus.
- Keep emergency contact numbers handy and be in touch with your physician for regular health updates.
- Ensure you have people to help you in case of emergencies – keep trusted neighbours, friends who stay nearby informed of your condition and seek their help if required.
- Strictly take insulin on time and follow a well-planned and healthy diet. Keep an adequate supply of insulin injections, pens, glucose tests at home.
- Do not completely isolate yourself from the world as this can have physical and psychological ill effects. In case you are living with a working professional or children who tend to venture out, try to maintain minimum physical contact.
- In case suffering from low blood sugar, address immediately. A single tablet of Hypotab will help to immediately bring the blood sugar level to normal.
Living through a pandemic is certainly difficult for everyone and those suffering from diabetes may feel even more restricted, especially during the festive season. However there is no need to worry – enjoy the festivities, it is okay to cheat a little bit now and then but do not go overboard. Watch out for any warning symptoms and keep your doctor notified. A diet rich in leafy vegetables, protein-rich foods, non-sugary fruits and regular exercise will keep you feeling hale and healthy.