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Diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic – what do I need to know
September 02, 2020
Diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic – what do I need to know

What you need to know about diabetes management during COVID-19

You’re mastered counting carbs and insulin dosing – you’re feeling like a diabetes management pro! Then COVID-19 hit. Schedules have changed, kids miss their friends and so much has changed all at once. Are you at increased risk to get COVID-19? How can you stay healthy and safe? What supplies should you keep on hand in case there are spikes in cases in Virginia? Our certified diabetes educator, Nicole Grant, answers those questions and more in this post.

Have questions about returning to school? Check out our return to school resources here.

Am I at increased risk because of my diabetes?

Diabetes does not increase your risk of contracting coronavirus. If you do become sick, it can be more difficult to manage your diabetes.

What can I do to stay healthy?

The CDC recommends the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose and eyes.
  • Clean and disinfect your home, especially “high touch” surfaces like doorknobs, light switches and counter tops.
  • Avoid crowds and maintain a social distance of 6 feet from others in public.
  • Avoid all non-essential travel.

What supplies should I have on hand in case I need to quarantine (not leave home)?

It is important to have the supplies you need in order to manage your diabetes. In addition to a supply of non-perishable food, your family should designate a space within your home to separate (or quarantine) anyone in the home who may have symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus) or have been exposed to COVID-19. 

Keep the following supplies on hand:

  • Insulin(s)
  • Pen needles or syringes
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Lancets
  • Blood glucose test strips
  • Ketone test strips
  • Glucagon/Glucagen/Baqsimi/Gvoke
  • Glucose tablets, glucose gel, juice boxes or other treatment for low blood sugars
  • Insulin pump and CGM supplies (if used)
  • Shelf-stable sick day foods such as:
    • Saltine crackers
    • Broth-based soups
    • Gingerale, Gatorade or Pedialyte
    • Applesauce

What should I do if I develop COVID-19 symptoms?

Kids with coronavirus can have a wide range of symptoms – or no symptoms at all. Symptoms typically appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you develop symptoms, call your pediatrician or primary care provider.

Our patients have great resources to help them manage sick days. Check out your:

Quick tips for sick day management:

  • Increase frequency of blood glucose monitoring to every 3-4 hours.
  • If blood sugar is over 250mg/dl on an insulin pump or 300mg/dl on injections, monitor for ketones every 2-3 hours.
  • If vomiting or not eating due to nausea, monitor for ketones every 2-3 hours. If ketones are moderate to large, follow the guidelines provided by your doctor for increasing insulin doses. If you are not sure how to increase, call the pediatric endocrinologist on call at 804-828-0951.
  • Also call our pediatric endocrinologist on call if:
    • Ketones do not decrease despite increasing insulin doses and frequency.
    • Blood sugars are running low with moderate or large ketones.
    • Vomiting continues for 3-4 hours.
    • Signs of dehydration (not peeing, headache, dry mouth, etc.).

More resources for managing diabetes during coronavirus 

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