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World Diabetes Day 2020: COVID-19 And Diabetes

14 November is observed as World Diabetes Day which is the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922.

The day was initiated in 1991 by the IDF and the World Health Organization as a response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes. The theme of World Diabetes Day and Diabetes Awareness Month 2020 is The Nurse and Diabetes - where the campaign aims to raise awareness around the crucial role that nurses play in supporting people living with diabetes, especially amidst this pandemic.

The campaign is represented by a blue circle logo that was adopted in 2007 after the passage of the UN Resolution on diabetes. The blue circle is the global symbol for diabetes awareness. It signifies the unity of the global diabetes community in response to the diabetes epidemic.

The coronavirus infection or the COVID-19 causes a respiratory infection where the patients develop mild to severe symptoms including a cough, fever and difficulty breathing, which can take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19 [1].

The lack of information and the developing studies regarding this new strain of the virus which has caused the world to come to standstill has contributed towards a global panic. As the virus attacks people based on the age-groups and health conditions, people with conditions such as diabetes have been directed to take extra precautions [2].

Diabetes is a chronic disease and hence its link to the immune system has indeed resulted in an abundance of questions and concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on diabetic individuals. We will focus on the available data regarding coronavirus and diabetes, as of now.

More studies and researches are being conducted currently.


Diabetes And Coronavirus Infection

Diabetic individuals, especially ones with poor glycaemic control have an increased risk of contracting the infection. People with diabetes are considered a high-risk group by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [3].

With the immune system being compromised due to chronic diseases, diabetic individuals become easy preys to the virus. And, it is the same case for people with well-managed diabetes as well.

As per the American Diabetes Association's COVID-19 page report, "preliminary data show that the elderly and those with baseline chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease, appear to be at higher risk for experiencing severe illness with this virus. [High blood glucose levels challenge] the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to severe outcomes with infections. Working with your diabetes care team to manage blood sugars would help the immune system to function properly and increase overall wellness. In addition, keep a careful eye on your blood sugar if you are sick; illness can cause blood sugars to spike, leading to severe complications that further weaken the body's ability to fight the virus" [4].

Therefore, as of now, the best measure is to continue following your medicines and habits and if you feel the need to visit your doctor, make sure you carry it out through telephonic conversations or online, so as to reduce the risk of the virus being spread.


A Plan Is Necessary When Living With Diabetes

When living with a chronic condition, it is necessary that you have plans to deals with emergencies such as the one we are all facing now. Therefore, make sure you have a plan before you or your loved one becomes ill.

  • Write down the names and doses of your medications.
  • Make sure you have enough medication for one-two weeks in case you cannot get to the pharmacy to refill your prescriptions.
  • Gather the contact information of your doctors, clinic, pharmacy and your insurance.
  • Have extra supplies like rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizers and soap to wash your hands.
  • Keep simple sugars such as glucose tablets on hand in case you need to treat low blood sugar which may occur more frequently due to changes in your eating patterns.

Steps To Reduce COVID-19 Exposure For Diabetics

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve. When using tissues, immediately dispose of them into the garbage as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Regularly clean commonly used surfaces and devices you touch or handle.
  • Try to avoid contact with people who are showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing.
  • Avoid travelling.
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health-care provider.
  • If you have a scheduled visit with your health-care provider, contact them via phone or online portal first to see what other options you may have.
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