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One of the things diabetics are most worried about these days is whether they are more prone to the coronavirus infection. But evidence has shown that as long as diabetics keep their blood sugar levels in check, they would not be at risk any more than others, Dr Alka Jha, consultant, diabetes, Fortis Flt Lt Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj, told 

That said, with reduced physical activity and, for some, stress eating that the lockdown has resulted in, controlling diabetes only becomes more challenging. Not to mention how the current crisis has also affected people’s mental health, adding to their stress levels. Stress hormones in the body can affect glucose levels directly, usually leading to its increase.

“Situations like lockdown may worsen the control of diabetes due to many factors like non-availability of medicines and insulin injections, non-availability of consumables needed for diabetes monitoring and treatment devices like glucometer, infusion pump, etc, changes in the daily schedule, behavioural changes, stress, lack of physical inactivity, increased eating which may be due to snacking while watching TV or using mobile, and above all, there could also be inappropriate sleep which may play a role in worsening of blood sugar and blood pressure level,” Dr Subhash Kumar Wangnoo, senior consultant endocrinologist and diabetologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi, explained.

How diabetics can cope with stress

In such a situation, how do diabetics manage stress and keep their blood sugar levels under control? Here are some ways to do it, as suggested by the doctors.

1. Follow the lockdown: Patients should follow the lockdown rules and stay at home. If their blood sugar levels are high, especially elderly diabetics, and they step out, it increases risk since any comorbidity means if they acquire the infection, it will impact their health more severely.

Read| Coronavirus pandemic: Easy tips for diabetics to stay safe

2. Keep yourself busy: Instead of panicking about the situation, it is best to keep oneself distracted by engaging in hobbies or activities they like to relax the mind. This will also ensure that one is busy and not sleeping during the day and they can sleep well at night.

3. Exercise: Exercise helps you de-stress. While diabetics cannot do outdoor exercises, there are ways to remain physically active at home. One can do pranayam or stretching exercises, muscle strengthening exercises with 1-2 kg weight, walk up and down the stairs as many times as possible, or walk along the longest corridor of the house.

4. Consult your doctor: If your blood sugar levels are not under control, make sure to consult your doctor without delay.

5. Stock up: Ensure a good stock of all required medications, insulin syringes, injection needles, insulin vials so that even a single dose is not missed. Not only that, if you are using glucometer for glucose monitoring then also ensure adequate stock of strips, batteries, its lancets, and all consumables are at hand if one is on an insulin pump.

6. Avoid stress eating: Maintain your eating pattern as it was prior to lockdown, and keep an eye on your portions. And if possible reduce the portion size. Stress and monotony can induce extra eating, which needs to be avoided by all means.

7. Eat healthy: Eat a lot of vegetables, try to take two-three servings of fruits in a day, and eat foods rich in protein. Avoid excess of carbohydrates and identify low caloric food like salads and soups, nuts, pulses, and lentils which are preferred as the activity level during the lockdown is bound to be low.

8. Get vaccinated: While there is no vaccine for the virus, diabetics should get themselves vaccinated for flu and penumonia vaccine for added protection.

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