Covid-19 and diabetes: managing your risk
South Africa joins the global community to commemorate World Diabetes Day (14 November) to highlight the impact diabetes has on the quality of life of those suffering from this condition, their families and the role communities can play in supporting prevention, early diagnosis and good management of diabetes.
The World Diabetes Day is commemorated every year on 14 November to promote universal health coverage for affordable and equitable access to diabetes prevention and control services, including improving the knowledge and capacities of health care providers and people living with diabetes and their families to take charge of their own care, reduce economic hardship in households which might come as a result of having a family member being diagnosed with the disease.
The 2020 World Diabetes Day will be commemorated under theme “the Nurse and Diabetes” and which serves to recognise the important role played by nurses in the prevention and control of diabetes.
Diabetes is a life-long disease-causing blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, lower limb amputation and premature death. The complications of diabetes can be avoided or delayed with medication, healthy diet, physical activity, and regular screening.
Diabetes has been associated with increased Covid-19 mortality in South Africa. The prevention and control of diabetes requires commitment and responsibility now than before to minimise the risk of getting very sick from Covid-19.
Regular screening and knowledge about early warning signs of the condition are some of the contributing factors to effective management of the diabetes. On average it takes seven years for a person to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, as symptoms can be mild and as a result, about 30% of people with Type 2 diabetes will already have developed complications by the time they are diagnosed. Thus, optimal management outcomes are dependent on screening, early diagnosis, prompt holistic treatment and control.
All people living with diabetes should not only follow all of the universal precautions needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but also ensure that they carefully monitor their blood sugar, as well as maintaining the healthy habits (which include taking of medicines as prescribed, eating healthy, weight control and physical activity) that help keep diabetes under control.
Diabetes can be effectively managed through continuing with healthy choices and taking medications or insulins consistently and on time. It is also important to stay active even during lockdown period with regular monitoring of blood sugar levels according to the health care provider’s advice. This will help you identify spikes or trends that suggest your diabetes may be getting out of control. Pandemic or not, regularly checking in with your healthcare provider is essential.
People with uncontrolled diabetes are at a higher risk of being hit hard by covid-19 including dying from the virus.
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