“Am I at higher risk with type 2 diabetes?”

No. We all have the same risk of contracting it, so follow all the precautionary measures we’re currently being educated about on TV and social media.

A report from WHO (World Health Organisation), which studied cases in China, said people at the highest risk of severe disease, if contracting it, are those with the following underlying conditions: high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions like asthma and cancer.

Coronavirus is a new virus, so none of us has immunity to it, but most cases appear to be mild.

For people with type 2 diabetes, if you contract Coronavirus, the severity and duration of this illness may have a greater impact on you. This means NOW is the time to be diligent with getting your blood glucose (BG) levels into a safe range, practice social distancing, and self-isolating if you have symptoms or feel safer.

How can I decrease the severity of illness if I contract Coronavirus?

  • Ensure your BG levels are well managed. This means, as a general guide, between 5-8mmols, but targets may be different for some people. This can help reduce the risk of infection and severity of the disease.
  • Manage your stress levels as well as you can. Ongoing stress contributes to elevated BG levels, fat around the waist and weakens your immune system. Social connection is vital as we physically distance ourselves. We need to keep connected to the world outside, our family and friends. This gives a sense of belonging and of not being alone. There are many groups online to be part of or get creative with phone call catchups.
  • Manage your waist measurement. Any increase will increase your BG levels as it contributes to your cells becoming more resistant to insulin. Reducing 5% of your body weight will have significant benefits to your BG levels, cholesterol and blood pressure. Be careful not to snack on high carb, high fat foods. Get stocked on healthier options too.
  • Now is the time to add physical activity. This is a great stress reliever and will help you stay mentally strong as well as physically. Find some groups to be a part of online – YouTube has videos of every exercise imaginable or keep accountable with friends/family and/or your allied health practitioner on the phone. Get outside – hanging out clothes, gardening, lawn mowing, or doing those jobs you haven’t had time for, plus you get vitamin D and fresh air.
  • If you develop an elevated temperature, this will increase your BG levels. Being prepared for this, staying well hydrated and having a plan is vital. (see our link for the template below).
  • Eat healthy. Make sure you’re giving your body the right food and nutrients to ensure it has the resources to stay strong and fight if necessary.
  • Flu vaccinations. Very important! You don’t want to lower your immunity by catching the yearly flu if you can try and prevent it. The flu vaccine only lasts 4 months, so having it early will mean you will need another in 4 months’ time.
  • The pneumococcal vaccine is available if you are over 65 and are at higher risk. If you are younger, discuss with your GP. It may decrease your risk of secondary bacterial pneumonia which comes after a respiratory viral infection. We don’t know how much protection it gives though in the case of Coronavirus as data isn’t available on this yet.

If you’re not sick now, get prepared! Now is the time to get ahead of the game. Your preparation for this should be just like flu season every year, although we acknowledge Coronavirus is not like the usual flu.

Everyone with diabetes should have a Sick Day Management Kit, which contains everything you may need when you get sick.

Everyone with diabetes should have a Sick Day Management Plan. This is the plan you would prepare with your GP or Diabetes Educator and should have all the instructions on exactly what you need to do when you get sick.

These aren’t normal times we’re living in, they’re unprecedented. But it’s a great time to learn all you can about managing your diabetes. This is why we created Driving Diabetes last year to ensure you have the knowledge and skills to be the driver of your condition. Information regarding COVID-19 is changing everday. We’ll keep you updated on our Facebook page. Let us know any other questions you have on our Facebook page or send us a question on the Contact Us page of our website drivingdiabetes.com.au.

Helen & Amanda

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