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Recommendations for People with Diabetes during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Submitted by Kay Searfoss, Registered Dietitian

Lac Courte Oreilles Community Health Center

Several organizations, including The American Diabetes Association, the Harvard Medical School and the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists, have jointly issued recommendations for people with diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are being shared by diabetes communities around the world to help keep those with diabetes, and other chronic conditions, safe and healthy.

The recommendations, available at offer tips on how to establish and maintain strict personal hygiene, minimize physical interaction with others, minimize risks when out in public, make work as safe as possible, establish a successful diabetes management routine and maximize physical and mental health.

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-19 and could pass it on, wear a mask if you must go out and only go out for essential activities such as required medical appointments.

Minimize physical interaction with others

  • Minimize contact with individuals outside your household.

  • Have enough food, supplies, and medication to minimize trip frequency as your budget allows. Get them delivered if you can, get curbside pickup or ask a younger, healthy family member or friend to shop for you and drop off the items at your door.

  • Seek routine medical care from home, utilize telehealth and phone options.

Minimize risk when out in public

  • Maintain a distance of at least 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 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. If you become ill, your health care provider may recommend checking ketones.

  • Secure a sufficient amount of supplies, including medications, insulin, blood sugar testing supplies and ketone strips.

  • 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.

  • Lean on your community for help – none of these behaviors are easy, and we all need support. Look into digital and online communities or contact the clinic’s behavioral health department.

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 your health care provider.

  • Know the warning signs of DKA and seek immediate medical attention for symptoms including fruity smelling breath, vomiting, weight loss, dehydration, confusion, and hyperventilation.

If you have diabetes and contract the novel coronavirus, contact your healthcare professional immediately. For more information, visit this resource from the Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition.


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