Covid-19 hit the world almost overnight. From grand new year celebrations to strict lockdowns and thousands of daily deaths internationally, the highly contagious infection has altered the world tremendously. Today, the international as well as inter-state travel has been halted in most of the major countries across the world and people are observing protocols like social distancing to save themselves. However, there are certain diseases which pose greater risk of infection to the patients. One such wide-spread chronic disease is diabetes. Global data reveals that those suffering from co-morbidity diseases like Diabetes have almost double the number of infections and deaths due to Coronavirus.
Diabetes puts the patients at an enhanced risk of infection due to two main reasons. Whether a patient has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, his body immune system is weakened due to the unusual glucose variations caused by the disease. The other possible reason is that the high blood glucose levels might prove conducive to the growth of the virus inside the body.
Hence, in cases where a person suffering from diabetes becomes infected, there are a lot more complications in his/her treatment and usually the treatment period is also much longer.
The precautions to be taken by Diabetes patients
The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is a novel coronavirus. The scientists all over the world are currently studying the virus and it will take quite some time for a vaccine to be discovered. In such a scenario, prevention is the best cure for the patients suffering from diabetes. The World Health Organization, government of India and various other health experts have issued guidelines related to the coronavirus pandemic. The WHO issues regular updates every alternate day. These guidelines are for general public, but, they assume greater significance for the diabetes patients as well as their family members and caregivers.
Based on the advisories, here are some of the recommended protocols that should be followed:
Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
It has been discovered that the virus enters the body through mouth, nose or eyes. Hence, it is crucial to avoid touching your face before washing and drying your hands thoroughly.
The commonly used objects and surfaces including door knobs, handles, railings, kitchen tops, taps and other such surfaces are touched by several people. The risk becomes even higher in public areas. Hence, such surfaces should be regularly cleaned and disinfected to prevent infection among users.
Covid-19 is a droplet based virus and it can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes in close proximity of another person. Therefore, you should always cover your mouth and nose with either a handkerchief or a tissue. In case you don’t have either of these handy then you should cover your face with the crook of your arm. However, covering your mouth or nose with hands is to be avoided.
Sharing might not be caring in these times. Hence, diabetics need to be extra careful in not sharing their food, glasses, towels, phones or gadgets with others.
You must be extremely careful about avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms of any respiratory illness or fever. Six feet of social distancing is necessary even with the asymptomatic people.
Remember that these protocols and restrictions are crucial in protecting yourself and your loved ones.
If you feel any kind of respiratory discomfort or develop symptoms of flu then it is advised that you should stay home and remain isolated from your family members.
These best practices are widely shared and most people are aware of these preventive steps, but, as a diabetes patient, it is important for you to pay a lot of attention to your food and relaxation at present. You should eat nutritious food that improves the body’s strength and immunity. By consuming a balanced diet, you can control blood glucose levels and make yourself better protected from the infection. Consumption of fruits and green leafy vegetables can prove to be highly beneficial.
You should also ensure that you live an active lifestyle, even during the lockdown. If it is not possible to go outside, you should take walks indoors or on terrace. Apart from this regular exercise, yoga, meditation and other such practices would ensure that you remain active. This will drive away obesity, fatigue and stress. Regular exercise and meditation can also improve your mental health and help you avoid the lockdown related mental stress.
Dr. Ashish Dengra is a Diabetologist based in Jabalpur. Currently, he is attached to the MAHI Diabetes Clinic and the Jabalpur Hospital where he is available for consultation by appointment. He specialises in the treatment of diabetes, thyroid disorders and obesity. After completing his MBBS and MD in Medicine, Dr. Dengra went on to pursue further specialised training in diabetology. Over the years, Dr. Dengra has had good exposure in managing medical emergencies of all specialties i.e. general medicine, cardiology, neurology and gastroenterology on a regular basis.