Amidst the ambiguity regarding the latest Omicron variant of COVID-19, there may be several myths and rumours. Instead of worrying about these, it is better to follow certain specific guidelines to keep yourself and your family safe. Especially if you are a person with Diabetes, you will need to consider some additional precautions.
Precautions to reduce the risk
COVID-19 appropriate behaviour- Wear an N-95 mask with a good fit or double mask, avoid crowds, follow hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Satinise the frequently touched surfaces at home and handle anything that comes from outside with care.
- Monitor your blood sugar- Keep a check on your blood sugar levels more frequently than before. Keep a record of your readings. HbA1C test done every three months can give a good picture of blood sugar levels over 3 months. Make sure your levels are in the healthy range as advised by your doctor because uncontrolled levels of blood sugar bring a risk of many other health complications and can be a reason for severe illness due to Covid.
- Medicines- Take all your prescribed medicines regularly. If you are deficient in vitamin D and (or) vitamin B12 ask your doctor for the necessary supplements and maintain your lab reports in the normal range.
- Diet- Take a balanced and nutritious diet that is low in sugars and unhealthy fats. Avoid deep fried, processed, packaged food and beverages. Freshly prepared homemade food, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts should be consumed as per your health needs. Do not over consume nutraceuticals, herbal remedies, etc. without consulting your doctor.
- Daily Physical Activity– Do not make Covid an excuse to skip your daily walk and exercises. Rather, you should move your activities indoors and improvise. For example, you can practice different Asanas of Yoga that can be performed indoors, practice moderate to high energy dance forms or even spot sprinting and static jogging.
- Vaccination- While exercise can help you boost your immunity, there’s no better alternative to getting vaccinated. If your turn has arrived, you should definitely get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and a precaution dose (3rd dose if eligible).
To take the necessary precautions, you will need to have certain equipment and paraphernalia available at home.
- A Glucometer
- A Pulse Oximeter
- An adequate supply of face masks and sanitisers
- Adequate stock of all emergency as well as daily Diabetes medication.
If you haven’t consulted a doctor in the last couple of months, you should also take a follow-up consultation.
Watch out for the following symptoms of Omicron
- Cold and sneezing
- Nasal and/or chest congestion
- Runny nose
- Fever or chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat, scratchy throat
- Nausea or vomiting
One may experience some or even none of the above-mentioned symptoms and still be Covid positive. There are people with no symtoms, mild symtoms and even severe symtoms.
What to do if you think you have Omicron symptoms?
Do not panic if you have all the aforementioned symptoms of Omicron. The first thing you need to do in such a situation is to be alert and decisive. You also need to prevent the infection from spreading to your family and loved ones. Here’s what you should do
- Isolate or quarantine yourself in a well ventilated room of your house (preferably one with an attached toilet).
- Consult or tele-consult a doctor and get a Covid self test or RT PCR test done.
- Inform your doctor about your medical history of diabetes and any other illness (if present) and list of all ongoing medications.
- If possible, consult your diabetologist too.
- Religiously follow the course of treatment prescribed by your doctor.
- Constantly monitor your blood sugar levels, blood oxygen saturation levels (SpO2), pulse and body temperature.
- Remember to drink lots of healthy fluids and a balanced diet.
Immediately consult your doctor or go to a hospital if –
- Your blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) level drops below 93.
- You have a recurring or persistent high fever (>100 deg F).
- You experience sudden changes in your blood sugar levels.
- You feel extremely nauseous and have frequent vomiting or loose motions.
- You have significant difficulty breathing.
- You have frequent pain or discomfort in your chest.
- You have a sudden loss of consciousness.
Sick day guidelines for diabetes –
- Whenever you feel under the weather or exhibit any of the symptoms of Omicron, you should stay in regular telephonic contact with your doctor.
- If you feel your symptoms worsening, don’t hesitate to seek expert medical help at a nearby hospital.
- Incase of severe fluctuation is blood sugar consult your treating diabetologist /doctor immediately.
Use of insulin –
If you experience a sudden fall in insulin levels (which can lead to a sudden increase in blood sugar levels), consult a doctor immediately. Some oral medicines for diabetes may not be well tolerated during severe illness. Your doctor can adjust the dosage of your ongoing diabetes medication and start insulin as well. The most important thing is to not panic because once you have recovered there are high chances that your doses of medication will be adjusted again and recently added insulin injections can be discontinued then.
Dietary tips –
Finally, one of the most important things to keep in mind is to maintain a healthy diet. It is advisable to consume small frequent meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism regular. You should eat food that is low in sugar and easy to digest. Hence, avoid eating too many fried foods and food that is extremely high in fibre. It is best to opt for fresh fruits, a balanced salad, sprouts or even easy to digest food like Upma and Idli.
For breakfast, you can have oatmeal or daliya, while for lunch you can go for fresh green vegetables, paneer, soybeans, dal, etc. For dinner, you can have light soup and some vegetables, whole wheat flatbreads like roti/chapati, khichdi. Moreover, you should also drink enough water to keep your electrolyte levels steady.
1. Do people with diabetes have a higher chance of Omicron infection?
Ans: There is currently not enough data to suggest the same. However, having diabetes can increase the chance of an Omicron infection becoming severe.
2. Are the risks of Omicron infection different for people with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
Ans: There is not enough data to show the difference, but people with either kind of diabetes have been suggested to have a higher risk of complications in the case of Omicron infection.
3. Do I need to worry about DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis)?
Ans: DKA can happen to people with persistent uncontrolled high blood sugars ie above 300 mg/dL. Watch for symptoms like:
- Fruity odour from breath
- Pain in abdomen
- Loss of/altered consciousness
- Immediately check for urine ketones and consult a doctor. DKA is a medical emergency and should be managed in a hospital.
4. Does Omicron cause diabetes?
Ans: No, there is no evidence that supports this.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.