Facing Covid-19 as a diabetic

Health Beauty | Raymond Tso 24 Nov 2020

Even before covid-19 emerged, diabetes was increasing at an alarming rate. Approximately 463 million adults, or one in 11, are living with diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation. That number will rise to 700 million by 2045.

The World Health Organization estimates that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death, and almost half of all deaths attributable to high blood glucose occur before 70.

There is evidence that diabetics are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. The reason is likely to be multifactorial: age, sex, ethnicity, comorbidities such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease, obesity, and a proinflammatory and procoagulative state all probably contribute to the risk .

Regular health checks

One of the challenges of treating diabetes is that many diabetics do not know they have the disease, as they don't recognize the symptoms. One in two adults with diabetes go undiagnosed.

This means you may be even more vulnerable to Covid-19 because you do not know you are diabetic.

Symptoms of diabetes include weight loss, lethargy, excessive thirst and hunger and frequent or excessive urination. However, people may easily overlook these symptoms, and many diabetics are asymptomatic. The best way to diagnose diabetes is to have regular health checks, including fasting sugar and HbA1c tests, especially if you are overweight, over 45 or have a family history of diabetes.

Diabetics should be particularly conscientious about protecting themselves against Covid-19.

Maintaining good social distancing, wearing a mask, and ensuring good hand hygiene are effective measures. They should also be vigilant and look out for potential Covid-19 symptoms such as fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, and abnormal glucose and ketone readings.

To avoid visits to hospitals, diabetics need to ensure they have a good supply of medication and seek help from clinics or smaller medical facilities.

Remember your ABC

The most important thing you can do is to control your ABC: A1c, blood pressure and cholesterol.

HbA1c is a blood test that shows what your average blood glucose has been over the last two to three months. Maintaining your A1c level below 7 percent c an help reduce the risk of complications.

In addition, diabetics are more likely to have diseases caused by high blood pressure, such as kidney disease, heart attack and stroke.

Also, remember avoiding bad cholesterol can prevent cholesterol build up clogging your blood vessels, which can lead to a heart attack or a stroke.

Under the pandemic, people have been spending more time staying in and cook at home.

This is a good opportunity for diabetics to maintain a healthy diet.

Try to avoid refined carbohydrates and sugars and consume more high-fiber foods such as oatmeal.

A balanced diet with lean meat with good quality protein and polyunsaturated fat is recommended, and never forget to control your portion size to help control your weight.

It is also important to exercise regularly - four to five times a week for at least 30 minutes each time.

The goal is to sustain an optimal body fat percentage and avoid obesity around your midriff.

Dr Raymond Tso is a respiratory specialist and Sun Life Medical director



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