The theme for World Diabetes Day 2021-23 is ‘Access to Diabetes Care’. The centenary of the discovery of insulin comes at a time of meaningful change for many patients. Through technology advancement and promoting healthy lifestyles, we can now better prevent, diagnose and treat diabetes.

While we fight the pandemic, people with diabetes should continue to take necessary measures to protect themselves. Prevention is always important as the immune systems of people with diabetes are usually weaker. People with diabetes should be vigilant about social distancing, wearing masks in public, and maintaining good personal hygiene. 

The pandemic threatens the health and lifestyle of people with diabetes. Medical facilities and resources are especially stretched. It also affects diabetes screening and diagnosis. In addition, many people live in confined spaces and struggle to exercise during lockdowns. This impacts the physical and mental wellness of both people with diabetes and those who have pre-diabetic conditions. Healthy diets and routines are also disrupted.

 

People with diabetes and caregivers can do a few things to protect themselves:

Medication: Supply of medicine may be disrupted because of the lockdowns and supply chain interruptions. Check the stock of medication regularly. It is important to renew prescriptions before running out.

Monitoring: If you are concerned about going to hospital for routine blood tests because of infection, you can use finger sticks to check blood sugar levels. Have a plan in place for seeking medical help if blood sugar levels are too high. If you are experiencing symptoms like a fever, seek medical help as soon as possible. 

Exercise: There are online videos that can teach you how to exercise at home if you are unable to go out to exercise. Caregivers can encourage patients to be active and do more exercise by getting involved themselves.

 

Question to ask yourself


 

What are you doing at home during the pandemic?

 
  1. I am doing yoga and meditation.
 
 
  2. I am playing the video games.
 
 
  3. I am working out HIIT.
 
 
  4. I am cooking my healthy meals.
 

Reference illustration of Poll component

 

Diet: Eat fresh foods like leafy vegetables, salmon, walnuts and berries and maintain a balanced diet. Family members can assist the elderly to get fresh foods to lower their chance of infection.

Mental health: Meet and talk to families and friends physically or virtually regularly and make regular check-ins with those who are living alone and may be feeling isolated or struggling to care for themselves. Look out for behavioral changes which may indicate physical or mental health problems.

Vaccination: If vaccines are available, check with family doctor for advice. The elderly, people with pre-existing conditions and health workers are typically priority groups for vaccination.

Early diagnosis: Pay attention to early symptoms like drinking a lot of water, urinating a lot more than usual and feeling hungry and tired frequently. Don’t delay diabetes testing and diagnosis because of the fear of infection at medical facilities. 

“Keeping social distance, wearing masks in public, and maintaining good personal hygiene are important for everyone during the pandemic. For diabetics, it is important to follow doctor’s instructions on medication and don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed, “said Dr. Raymond Tso, Medical Director, AVP, Sun Life Financial.

A healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced diet can help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. As medicine and technologies continue to advance, we can better support and care for people with diabetes.