COVID-19 has completely transformed the way we go to the grocery store, work, and take care of our health, among several other things.
If you have a long-term or chronic ailment like diabetes, the COVID-19 pandemic may have brought new challenges for managing diabetes care and keeping your blood sugar levels within the normal range.
How does diabetes occur? It occurs when glucose or blood sugar level is very high.
This can happen when your body is not producing adequate amounts of insulin or when your body is unable to use the insulin appropriately.
The two main types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, both of which increase blood sugar levels, which can lead to heart disease, kidney problems, or nerve damage over time.
Regularly monitoring your blood sugar levels and checking with your health care team for appropriate treatment can prevent that from happening.
But routine medical appointments and lab tests have become way too challenging when the COVID-19 cases are at an all-time high.
Since people with diabetes are at an elevated risk of complications from COVID-19, it can be specifically daunting to find out how to manage diabetes and the pandemic simultaneously.
Check if you need an A1C test
You may be monitoring your blood sugar levels by using glucose test strips multiple times a day or a continuous glucose monitor that checks your readings throughout the day.
But it could be a while since you have visited your doctor’s office or a medical lab in person for an A1C test. Generally, people with diabetes are advised to get an A1C test at least twice a year.
Your healthcare provider can also recommend getting this test more often, like once every 3-4 months, if you are having trouble maintaining control over your blood sugar levels.
An A1C test gives a detailed overview of your blood sugar levels over time and can be used in combination with CGM to help your healthcare provider determine whether you should change your diabetes care plan.
If you haven’t already, you should contact your doctor to talk over the time of your last A1C test, whether it’s time for you to have another, and whether you can omit or postpone your test if you are not comfortable going in due to the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Follow your preventive screenings if you can
Apart from A1C tests, there are several other screening tests that your doctor can recommend as a part of your diabetes care.
Generally, your healthcare provider will recommend that you take a kidney disease test once every year to evaluate protein levels in your urine.
Excessive amounts of protein could indicate that you can develop a diabetic kidney disease (also referred to as diabetic nephropathy) which could lead to kidney failure if not addressed in time.
If all your prior reports have been negative, a delay of one or two months will be fine, but you should get the screening done within a year from the last one.
Kindly talk to your doctor and determine the best time to get tested.
For instance, if you have other health conditions that elevate your risk of developing diabetic kidney disease, including high blood pressure (hypertension), or if you have a family history of kidney disease, your healthcare specialist might recommend you not to delay this test – just to be safe.
See a dentist in case you have any signs or symptoms of gum disease
While talking about diabetes care, we really can’t ignore caring for teeth and gums. In general, it is advised that people should go in for a routine dental checkup and cleaning at least twice a year.
However, it’s completely understandable if you have missed any of your routine dental screenings this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please be aware that diabetes increases your risk for gum disease, so oral health needs to be a part of your diabetes care plan always.
Moreover, gum disease can elevate your blood sugar levels, making it difficult for you to cope with the condition. By detecting your gum disease early, your dentist can help you get rid of the potential cause.
If it has been about six months since your last dental checkup, you can call your dentist and schedule an appointment. If you wish to go for a dental screening but are still not comfortable doing so, call your dentist and talk about your concerns.
Apart from explaining their office’s COVID-19 precautions, your dentist can opine about whether you could be at risk for gum disease depending upon your medical records and recommend a more personalized suggestion.
Conduct regular foot checks
Do you remember the doctor checking your feet during a routine checkup?
Well, that’s because people with diabetes are highly susceptible to nerve damage in their feet or legs.
Generally, your doctor will check for foot sores and ask if you experience any tingling or numbness since these can all be signs of nerve damage.
Ask your doctor if you need a comprehensive eye exam
When was the last time you had a comprehensive eye exam?
This is yet another preventive measure that you might have disregarded due to the pandemic.
However, it is a crucial test because high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in your body, including those found in your eyes, leading to diabetic retinopathy.