COVID-19 mitigation strategies combined with fear of infection and economic uncertainty, social isolation, reduced physical activity, limited access to care, and lack of motivation and monitoring could have serious impact people with diabetes and their management of diabetes. With weakened immune systems and resistance to infection, the outcomes are potentially serious but avoidable.

Diabetes is a progressive disease, it requires continuous modifications to its management plans; which consists of lifestyle changes including physical activity, diet, sleep, and stress management; as well as medication therapy. There is no one plan that fits all, each person working with their healthcare providers need to develop and adjust their diabetes management plan.

  1. Follow public health recommendations:
    a. When outside of your home, practicing physical distancing by keeping two meters (six feet) away from others.
    b. Give a friendly wave instead of a handshake, kiss or hug if you see someone you know.
    c. Keep any interactions as brief as possible.
    d. Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.
    e. If you have to cough or sneeze, try to do it into your elbow or a tissue, and then wash your hands afterwards.
    f. Washing your hands properly means using soap and water and washing for at least 20 seconds. Handwashing is preferred over alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If your hands have dirt or food or anything else on them, you should use soap and water because hand sanitizer may not work.
    g. Wear a mask, unless you have conditions that prevent wearing a mask.
    h. Ensure you continue to receive medical care for your chronic conditions.
  2. Monitor your blood glucose more frequently. Be aware that some Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) are impacted by Acetaminophen (Tylenol). Check with finger sticks to ensure accuracy;
  3. Be aware of the signs of hyperglycemia (Feeling shaky - Being nervous or anxious - Sweating, chills and clamminess - Irritability or impatience - Confusion - Fast heartbeat - Feeling lightheaded or dizzy - Hunger). You should have ready access to something containing sugar (glucose tablets, fruit juice or hard candy) to treat hypoglycemia if it occurs. Contact your healthcare provider if experiencing symptoms;
  4. Healthy nutrition is an essential component of diabetes management. It has been found that being significantly overweight is associated with serious outcomes in those affected by Covid-19. It is therefore important for people with diabetes to eat a varied and balanced diet to keep their blood glucose levels stable and enhance their immune system. If you have any questions about healthy eating, food, or nutrition, call 8-1-1 (or 7-1-1 for the deaf and hard of hearing) toll-free in BC;
  5. Regular physical activity is of great benefit to the general population and even more for people living with diabetes. Change your physical activity if required, for tips on physical activity at home, visit Live Well with Diabetes;
  6. Any infection is going to raise your glucose levels and increase your need for fluids. Stay hydrated;
  7. Make sure you have a good supply of the diabetes medications you need. Think what you would need if you had to quarantine yourself for a few weeks;
  8. If you live alone, make sure someone you can rely on knows you have diabetes as you may require assistance if you get ill;
  9. Keep a regular schedule, avoid overwork and have a good night's sleep;
  10. Reduce stress and worries. It is important to take action if you think you are depressed, contact BC Mental Health Support at 310-6789 (no area code needed) for emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health;
  11. Take influenza and pneumonia vaccinations as offered;
  12. Check your A1c as requested by your doctor at the lab;
  13. Get medical help as soon as possible if vomiting or not able to keep fluids down, and;
  14. Call your doctor's office immediately, if you have medium or large ketones (and if instructed to with trace or small ketones).

Check with your doctor for the following:

  • When to call your doctor's office (for ketones, changes in food intake, medication adjustments, etc.)
  • How often to check your blood sugar
  • When to check for ketones
  • Medications you should use for colds, flu, virus, and infections
  • Any changes to your diabetes medications when you are sick

What if I get sick? Do I need a test?

Pay attention to your health. If you develop cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help determine if you need further assessment for COVID-19 testing by a physician, nurse practitioner or at a BC COVID-19 collection centre. You can also call 8-1-1 to speak with a nurse anytime. When to seek Medical Care

Mild Symptoms

  • If your symptoms are mild and can be managed at home (e.g., fever, cough, sneezing, or sore throat) continue to self-isolate at home.

Worsening Symptoms

  • If your symptoms worsen or you are concerned, complete the BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool or call 8-1-1 any time.
  • Examples include mild to moderate shortness of breath, inability to lie down because of difficulty breathing, any new chest pain and chronic health conditions that you are having difficulty managing because of difficulty breathing.
  • If your symptoms worsen, it is important to seek medical help early. Please consult your family doctor or nurse practitioner. If you are unable to reach your regular care provider, seek care at an Urgent & Primary Care Centre or Emergency Department. When going in person please call ahead and tell them your symptoms, and that you have a chronic health condition.

Severe Symptoms require immediate medical attention.

  • Examples include severe difficulty breathing (e.g. struggling to breathe or speaking in single words), severe chest pain, having a very hard time waking up, or feeling confused or losing consciousness.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately, or go directly to your nearest emergency department. If possible, you or someone caring for you should call ahead and tell them your symptoms and that you have a chronic health condition.