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Managing diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic

People with diabetes or prediabetes and their supporting families who’ve come through formal diabetes self-management education know to plan for emergencies. And concerns in a pandemic like COVID-19 are real.

The main thing, I tell the people I see with diabetes, is to keep the main thing the main thing: control what you can control, which is diabetes through self-care. 

The American Diabetes Association offers this encouragement: “People with diabetes are not more likely to get COVID-19 than the general population…[and] your risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 is likely to be lower if your diabetes is well-managed.” 

That being said, people with diabetes are considered on the list of those at higher risk for the virus due to underlying health conditions.

To help lower your risk, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from the virus — and to make sure your blood sugar is well-controlled, so you can stay healthy and strong in the midst of the pandemic.

Resources for managing diabetes during COVID-19

First, give trusted online diabetes-specific resources a second look. Aside from all the safety protections recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), national diabetes organizations offer additional COVID-specific support tips for people with diabetes or prediabetes. 

Consult these organizations for resources specific to helping you manage diabetes:

To make it easy, I’ve rounded up a few useful diabetes self-care tip sheets to give you an idea what’s available for you now:

  1. Seven foundational diabetes self-care behavior how-to’s to help keep your blood glucose under control: healthy eatingbeing activemonitoring,taking medicationproblem solvingreducing riskhealthy coping
  2. Tips for ordering takeout or delivery
  3. Getting, stocking, and cleaning groceries during quarantine
  4. Diabetes meal delivery programs & services
  5. Managing your weight during a pandemic
  6. Indoor exercises to do while you practice social distancing
  7. Navigating diabetes drug or supply shortages
  8. 5 tips to improve medication access for people with diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic
  9. What to put in your Sick Day Kit: 18 items to keep on hand
  10. How to cope with anxiety: 7 tips to help you carry you through stressful times

Now, more than ever, it’s vital for everyone to obtain achievable goals for your blood glucose, blood pressure and beyond. The largest-yet scientific study just published of hospitalized patients with preexisting diabetes reaffirms that the best defense against poor COVID-19 outcomes is STILL good blood glucose control.

According to Clinical Endocrinology News (June 2020), “Well-controlled diabetes patients were less likely than poorly controlled ones to require invasive ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation [with COVID-19]; they were also less likely to die in hospital.” 

If you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes

Managing diabetes can seem daunting at first, especially with everything else going on in the world around you. But don’t put off self-care education. It’s best to get your blood sugar under control and learn basic key self-management survival skills as soon as possible after diagnosis. 

Medicare has expanded diabetes education coverage options during the pandemic, so contact a diabetes education program educator nearest you to pick an option you’re most comfortable with. 

Related: 10 tips for navigating diabetes education

For example, our own diabetes education program at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple offers telemedicine education consultation where you meet one-on-one with a certified diabetes educator via an online video call from the comfort of your own home. In addition, our diabetes education team also hosts in-person, one-on-one diabetes appointments as well as weekly, socially-distancing group diabetes education classes that have been expanded to the weekend per all safety protocols in our clinic. 

At the end of the day, remember that you do not have to manage diabetes alone! There are resources available for you. Get connected with diabetes education and support today.

About the author

Lynn McLellan, RD, CDCES
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Lynn McLellan is a registered dietician, certified diabetes care and education specialist and the current coordinator for the Diabetes Self-Management Education program at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple. The program launched in 1981 and is now among the longest running, ADA-certified diabetes education classes in the U.S. The program also hosts a free monthly diabetes support group open to the community.

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Managing diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic