The CDC recognizes diabetes as a condition that puts you at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. An individual is more likely to have diabetes-related health problems when blood sugars are higher than their target range. These health problems can make it harder to overcome COVID-19. It is important to take action to reduce your risk by continuing your current medications (both oral medications and insulin), tracking your blood sugars and not delaying care for your conditions.

What is Diabetes
Diabetes is when a person’s blood sugar is too high. Food is broken down into glucose, also known as sugar, and released into the bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone that our bodies naturally produce, and it is released from our pancreas to help sugar enter our blood and be used by our cells as energy. When an individual has diabetes there is a buildup of sugar in their blood and cells cannot properly use it. High levels of sugar in the blood can occur when our bodies are not producing enough insulin, when cells cannot use the insulin properly, or when the liver releases too much sugar.

Symptoms of hyperglycemia, also known as high blood sugar (blood sugar greater than 250 mg/dL), can include increased thirst and urination, blurry vision, fatigue, weight loss, nausea and vomiting. Hyperglycemia can also cause us to be more likely to get infections and cause wounds to heal more slowly.

While some individuals may not notice their symptoms of hyperglycemia, there are serious long-term complications that can occur with hyperglycemia over time. These serious complications include; blindness, kidney damage (dialysis), amputation, heart attack and strokes.

The following are the most common classifications of diabetes:

Prediabetes Type 1 Diabetes Type 2 Diabetes Gestational Diabetes
· Blood sugars are high but not high enough to have a diagnosis of diabetes

· Can be diagnosed any time throughout life

· Likely to turn into Type 2 Diabetes within the next 10 years

· Typically diagnosed during childhood or adolescence

· The pancreas no longer produces insulin causing the person to need to inject insulin

· Typically diagnosed during adulthood

· Caused by not having enough insulin over time and/or the body’s cells aren’t responding to insulin

· Diagnosed during the second or third trimester of pregnancy in an individual who did not present with diabetes prior to pregnancy

 

Tracking Blood Sugars
Once a person is diagnosed with diabetes it is important to check blood sugars regularly and check your A1c level every 3 months. The A1c indicates how well your body has regulated sugar in the blood over the past 3 months. The following table shows the blood sugar goals for most individuals:

A1c <7%
Blood sugar before eating 80-130 mg/dL
Blood sugar 2 hours after eating <180 mg/dL

 

There are multiple things you can do to work to lower your blood sugars including making healthy food choices, increasing your daily activity, and taking the medications you are prescribed. See the next section for more details.

Hypoglycemia, or blood sugar, less than 70 mg/dL, can be a scary experience for someone with diabetes. Symptoms of hypoglycemia can include becoming dizzy, clammy, sweaty and shaky. If you experience these symptoms, test your blood sugar to see if that is the cause of these symptoms. If your blood sugar is less than 70 mg/dL, treat with 15 g of fast acting carbohydrates (6 oz of regular pop, 4 oz of juice or eat 3-4 glucose tablets). After 15 minutes, recheck your blood sugar to ensure that it is going back up.

Seeking Treatment
For most individuals with diabetes it is recommended to limit the amount of carbohydrates to less than 45 g of carbohydrates per meal for women and less than 60 g of carbohydrates per meal for men. If possible, increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet and limit starchy carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, pasta and rice. Work to avoid sugary drinks such as pop, Gatorade and juices, and drink mostly water. Most adults with diabetes should try to incorporate 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity such as a brisk walk outside.

During this COVID-19 pandemic it is especially important that you continue to take your diabetes medications and continue to check your blood sugars regularly to catch if they become higher. HealthLinc is taking extra precautions to ensure that we keep our patients and staff safe, including requiring masks and temperature checks upon entering the building. If you need a medication refill or are due for your A1c check our providers are here to help. Call 1-888-580-1060 to schedule an appointment today.