Health Library

Diabetes and COVID-19: What to do if you get sick

November is American Diabetes Month, and the holiday season is upon us. Severe illness from COVID-19 is more likely in people who have certain underlying medical conditions like type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it's possible that people with type 1 or gestational diabetes are at higher risk too.

November is American Diabetes Month, and the holiday season is upon us. Severe illness from COVID-19 is more likely in people who have certain underlying medical conditions like type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it's possible that people with type 1 or gestational diabetes are at higher risk too.

And the danger goes both ways as we prepare to indulge in holiday feasts. Being sick may also make it harder for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar.

So if you have diabetes or know someone with diabetes, it's a good idea to be prepared. Blue Cross® Blue Shield® of Arizona (BCBSAZ) wants you to have the information you need to stay safe and healthy.

Plan ahead in case of illness

That means making sure you or your loved ones always have plenty of insulin—and groceries—for at least the week ahead. Be sure you're stocked up on supplies of simple carbohydrates—like regular soft drinks, honey, jam, gelatin dessert, hard candies, or frozen popsicles. These can help keep your blood sugar up in case you or your family feel too sick to eat.

You should also keep plenty of glucagon and ketone strips on hand, as well as rubbing alcohol and soap to wash your hands.

If you or someone you know with diabetes gets sick

The first thing to do if you suspect you or your loved ones have COVID-19 is to call your doctor's office. They will tell you what to do next—for example, where and how to get tested.

If you have COVID-19, you'll need to manage your blood sugar as well as possible. These tips may help:

  • Keep taking your diabetes medicines as usual, or follow your doctor's advice.
  • Stay hydrated. If you're having a hard time keeping water down, try taking small sips every 15 minutes or so.
  • Follow your doctor's advice about how often to check your blood sugar. If you use a continuous glucose monitor, keep in mind that some devices are affected by acetaminophen. You may need to do finger sticks to ensure you're getting the right readings. If your doctor isn’t available or doesn’t offer telemedicine visits, you can use BlueCare AnywhereSM. It’s a service that connects BCBSAZ members to board-certified doctors by live video.
  • If your blood sugar is low, eat 15 grams of simple carbs. Confirm that your blood sugar is on the rise with a 15-minute recheck.
  • If your blood sugar is high more than two times in a row, check your urine for ketones. If ketones are present, call your doctor's office right away. You may need to go to the emergency room to be treated for diabetic ketoacidosis.

Interested in learning more about diabetes? On our Mobilize AZ website you'll find ways to prevent and effectively manage diabetes.


Get more COVID-19 support
Visit our website to find the latest Blue Cross® Blue Shield® of Arizona COVID-19 support and resources.

 

The BlueCare Anywhere service should not be used in health emergencies. If you have a health emergency or need immediate help for an accident or injury, seek emergency care or call 911. Availability of services and programs will vary. Recommendations, advice, services, or online resources are not a substitute for the advice of a member’s physician or healthcare provider. Recommended services or treatment options may not be covered under BCBSAZ benefit plans. Certain health and wellness services are provided by an independent third party contracted by BCBSAZ to provide health enhancement services to BCBSAZ members. 

Related stories
Disclaimer

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.