Q: With the coronavirus scare, I want to know, what can I do (as a person with diabetes) to keep from getting sick?
A: Very timely question. People with diabetes are more prone to infectious illness and have a harder time recovering than people who do not have diabetes. Part of this is caused by a compromised immune system and part is due to “aiding and abetting the enemy” — providing extra fuel (sugar) for bacteria and viruses to use for growth. So it makes sense to take extra precautions.
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Most infectious illnesses (including common colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, flu and other viruses such as coronavirus) are contracted by coming in direct contact with germs that are airborne or on recently contaminated surfaces. When these germs get past the skin or nasal passages, they can reach the body’s fluids/tissues and cause infection. There are several things you can do to reduce your risk:
· Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, especially after contact with other people and public places.
· Avoid being in close proximity of people who are coughing or sneezing, and avoid touching/rubbing your eyes and nose.
· To keep your nasal passages healthy, use a humidifier in your home/office (particularly during the dry winter months).
· Get as much fresh air as possible; indoor/recirculated air tends to have a higher concentration of germs.
· To keep your own immune system in good shape, get enough sleep, manage your stress levels, and keep your blood sugars in control.
· Get an annual flu shot, and make sure your vaccines are up to date.
Symptoms of an illness can vary greatly. These may include a lack of energy, tiredness, congestion, nausea, fever, red/watery eyes, and coughing/sneezing. If you start to show early signs of an illness, contact your physician right away. It is very important that you stay well-hydrated and properly nourished, and keep your blood sugar within a healthy range. Talk with your healthcare team before you get sick to work up a detailed, written sick-day management plan.
Want to learn more about coronavirus and diabetes? Read “Coronavirus and Diabetes: What You Need to Know,” “Healthy Eating During Hard Times” and “Avoiding Coronavirus With Diabetes: Stock Up and Stay Home, CDC Says.”
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