Healthy lifestyle changes and medication can make a big difference for the millions of people in the U.S. with diabetes. A steady routine is key to managing the chronic condition from home.
“Most people don’t have symptoms unless their blood sugar is really quite high, and so anytime the sugar is higher than normal, it can be causing damage to the body,” said Jennifer Brackett, APRN, a certified diabetes educator with Northeast Medical Group. “So it’s really the day to day management that’s so important for diabetes.”
Disruption in routines due to COVID-19 may make managing diabetes more difficult. Brackett shared some tips for patients below.
Stay on top of medications
Patients with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin, a hormone that moves blood sugar through the body, so they need to take insulin to survive. With type 2 diabetes, most patients are still producing insulin, but the body isn’t using it properly.
Brackett said anyone who relies on insulin or certain other medications to manage their diabetes must make sure they have enough of the supplies they need at home to check their blood sugar and to treat a low blood sugar if they have one. Even if you’re stuck at home, many pharmacies offer deliveries or mail orders.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
It’s easier to stick to a healthy diet if you have healthy foods readily available. Brackett recommends keeping high protein, shelf stable foods on hand such as canned tuna or chicken, dried beans and whole grains.
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, get moving every day, especially if you’re working from home. From chair exercises to short workouts on YouTube, Brackett said there’s something for everyone. If you’re a smoker, there’s no better time to quit.
Stress can have a big impact on everyone. For people with diabetes, it can even raise blood sugar levels. Common coping mechanisms like food or alcohol won’t help.
Brackett said acknowledging your stress is the first step. Help alleviate stress by getting some exercise or connecting with friends or family members. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to reach out to a medical professional for help.
Schedule your routine visits
Unchecked diabetes can lead to damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart. The number one cause of death for people with diabetes is heart disease. Routine screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels can help prevent complications.
If you’re due for a screening, don’t postpone your appointment. Extra precautions are in place at all medical offices across the Yale New Haven Health system, including increased cleaning, mask wearing and temperature screenings. If you’re not able to leave home, Brackett said telehealth can be a good option.