Build Your COVID-19 Diabetes Go Bag

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Jordan Dakin

When it comes to being hospitalized in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s natural to worry about that possibility and while we hope we can stay home at all costs, being prepared for any scenario is the best course of action. As a result, packing a go bag in the case of a hospital visit during this time is crucial.

Most important? Pack your bag with 15 days of supplies to be on the safe side. The CDC recommends up to 14 days of quarantine in some cases for those who have been exposed or infected depending on the time it takes for symptoms to develop, so being prepared for a lengthy hospital stay just in case is advised.

The nature of COVID-19 is tricky because it requires isolation and even if you’re hospitalized for something diabetes-related, you run the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 in a hospital setting. Make sure you have all you need as it will be difficult for loved ones to get items to you if you are in isolation during a hospital stay.

Antiemetic or Anti-Nausea Medication

Zofran or any other antiemetic medicine is helpful to have on hand in case you do contract a mild form of COVID-19 to keep yourself from throwing up, as this can be dangerous and lead to DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis).

Carbs and/or Glucose Tabs

This may seem obvious, but it is so important. Be sure to pack some hard candy, fruit snacks, fruit juice, glucose tabs and gels, and any other preferred fast-acting carbohydrates.

Beverage(s) to Prevent Dehydration

This could include sports drinks, water, or a mix-in hydration powder with little to no carbs.

Ketone Strips and Glucagon

If you are sick, BGs are harder to manage and DKA can be a dangerous reality if you’re needing more insulin than normal while having trouble keeping carbs or fluids down. As a result, you should test for ketones more frequently when you are sick.

Insulin, Syringes, Pen Needles and Pump Supplies

Having backup methods to administer insulin is important in the event of a pump malfunction.

Testing Supplies Like a Blood Glucose Meter, Lancing Device, Lancet and Test Strips, Plus Sensors If Using Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM)

In some hospitals, it’s been difficult for patients to have their glucose levels checked hourly because healthcare workers don’t have enough personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc) to go in and out of patient rooms that often. Because of this, people with diabetes should be prepared to do their own testing and monitoring of blood glucose (BG). Bringing a backup method for testing aside from your CGM is also recommended in case sensors fail or other malfunctions occur.

Alcohol Swabs, Hand Sanitizer, Bandaids and Medical Tape

Disinfecting and keeping things clean and protected during this time is especially important.

Any Necessary Medications and Other Important Medical Details

This includes an itemized list of medications you’re currently taking, allergies to medications you might have, your physician’s information and emergency contact information.

Personal Protective Equipment

Pack your own gloves and masks or face coverings just in case. If possible, it might also be good to remember to wear PPE when entering the hospital to prevent excessive exposure to COVID-19.

Other Necessary Electronics and Chargers

Be prepared and bring any necessary cables to keep phones and tablets charged, especially if you’re using any kind of smart device to help monitor BGs.

A hospital stay during this time might sound scary, but it is important to take care of yourself and be prepared. If you are sick and have gone into DKA as a result and can’t keep down fluids, hospitalization becomes necessary and waiting only makes DKA more severe and life-threatening.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Why Glucagon Is a Must for Sick Days

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Jordan Dakin

Common Knowledge

Becoming sick when you have type 1 diabetes can easily complicate things. When you have the flu or a serious bacterial infection, your blood sugar levels can quickly become harder to manage, as they typically trend higher because of your body’s automatic, hormonal response to being sick. Because of this, you might find yourself needing more insulin than usual and needing to check for ketones more often to prevent diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Having a plan for sick day management when you have type 1 diabetes is crucial.

It’s important to be mindful of the possibility of high blood sugar when you’re sick. But it is also important to realize that sick day lows are a definite possibility as well! Especially if you’re taking more insulin than normal to combat highs when sick, you have to be mindful of resulting lows. You also run the risk of encountering a severe low if you are either unable to keep food down or lack an appetite when you’re sick, which are common realities when you have a cold or flu.

Enter Glucagon

Whatever the reason for a low, keeping glucagon handy to combat severe bouts of hypoglycemia on a sick day is definitely a must. Severe hypoglycemia is a dangerous complication of type 1 that can result in seizure, loss of consciousness, or death, and there is peace of mind in having a safety net to prevent any one of those outcomes. Glucagon is the first line treatment for severe hypoglycemia because it is the main counter-regulatory hormone to insulin. Parents and caretakers of those with type 1 can especially benefit by having an immediate safeguard against the dangers realities of a severe low.

The standard of care has been to keep a glucagon emergency kit handy. Historically, these emergency kits came equipped with an injectable form of glucagon, that requires mixing powder and liquid with a syringe by whoever is administering the shot. While this can definitely be an effective form of glucagon, having to mix the shot prior has made the procedure complicated and intimidating for some.

Next Level Options

Luckily for those of us affected by type 1 diabetes (T1D), glucagon has been approved in two new forms over the last year: nasal glucagon and pre-mixed steady state.

Baqsimi is the first and only nasal, non-injectable form of glucagon, offering a slight variation on what most people with diabetes are used to. It is administered like a nasal spray, but does not require inhalation, so even if a patient is unconscious (a frequent cause of severe hypoglycemia), anyone can administer Baqsimi and it will work.

Gvoke is the first liquid stable form of glucagon, meaning though it is an injection, it comes ready to use and requires no mixing on the part of whoever is administering the shot. Gvoke also comes in two forms: a pre-filled syringe (called Gvoke PFS) that is available to patients now and an auto-injector pen (the Gvoke HypoPen) that has yet to become officially available.

Neither Gvoke nor Baqsimi require refrigeration, and both have an impressive shelf life of up to two years if kept at room temperature. Another added benefit of these next generation iterations of glucagon is that these tools can likely prevent an ambulance trip to the hospital, saving time and resources. (Editor’s Note: This is especially important during the current COVID-19 pandemic, as it is not advised to visit hospitals unless absolutely necessary.)

How to Get Glucagon

Lilly currently offers a Baqsimi coupon patients can use to get up to two devices for as little as $25.

Through the end of April 2020, Xeris is offering a Gvoke co-pay card with which some patients can pay as little as $0 with eligible insurance to get their Gvoke PFS. Patients can also opt to request their prescription through the website and have Gvoke PFS delivered by PillPack at no additional cost.

Keeping glucagon handy is the best defense against unexpected lows when you’re not feeling well. Being sick might come with some uncertainties and cause some worry, but you can rest easier knowing you’re prepared and equipped with the necessary tools to take on whatever comes your way.

For step by step instructions on how to use each type of emergency glucagon, click here.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Advancements in Treatment: The Use of Adjunctive Therapies in Type 1 Diabetes

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Paresh Dandona and Megan Johnson

Read on to learn about the research around GLP-1, SGLT-2, and combination therapy use in type 1 diabetes. Dr. Paresh Dandona is a Distinguished Professor and Chief of Endocrinology at the University of Buffalo, and Megan Johnson is a fellow on his team

For people living with type 1 diabetes, new treatments are finally on the horizon. The University at Buffalo (UB) Endocrinology Research Center is helping to revolutionize the treatment of this condition. Among the most promising new therapies are two non-insulin medications currently used in type 2 diabetes, SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists.

SGLT-2 inhibitors, such as Farxiga, act the kidney to help the body excrete more glucose in the urine. Meanwhile, GLP-1 receptor agonists like Victoza work in several different ways: increasing the body’s natural insulin production, decreasing the release of the glucose-raising hormone glucagon, slowing the emptying of the stomach, and curbing excess appetite. Some people with type 1 diabetes take these medications as an addition to insulin treatment as an “off-label” drug. To learn more about off-label, check out the article: Can “Off Label” Drugs and Technology Help You? Ask Your Doctor.

Why consider these medications?

In people without diabetes, the body is constantly releasing more or less insulin to match the body’s energy needs.  People with type 1 diabetes do not make enough insulin on their own and have to try to mimic this process by taking insulin replacement – but it isn’t easy.

People with type 1 diabetes often have fluctuations in their blood sugars, putting them at risk for both low blood sugars (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugars (hyperglycemia). Many individuals are unable to manage their blood sugars in a healthy glucose range with insulin alone. In fact, less than 30% of people with type 1 diabetes currently have an A1C at the target of less than 7%.

Can GLP-1 agonists be safely used in type 1 diabetes?

Over the past decade, the endocrinologists at the University at Buffalo and other research groups have been conducting studies to see whether GLP-1-receptor agonists can safely be used in type 1 diabetes.

  • The first of these was published in 2011 and showed a decrease in A1C within just four weeks of GLP-1 agonist treatment. Importantly, people given GLP-1 agonists plus insulin also had much less variation in their blood sugars, as measured by continuous glucose monitors (CGM).
  • Another study involved 72 people with type 1 diabetes who took GLP-1 agonist or placebo (a “nothing” pil) in addition to insulin for 12 weeks. The GLP-1 group had decreases in A1C, insulin requirements, blood sugar fluctuations, and body weight. People in this group did report more nausea – a common side effect of GLP-1 agonists.
  • Since then, multiple studies, some involving over 1000 people and lasting up to 52 weeks, have shown that GLP-1 treatment in people with type 1 diabetes can reduce A1C and body weight, along with insulin dosages.

Many of these studies, but not all, have suggested that GLP-1 agonists can do this without increasing the risk for hypoglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). There is also some evidence that GLP-1 agonists can improve quality of life in type 1 diabetes.

Who should consider GLP-1’s?

The effects of GLP-1 agonists seem to be especially strong in individuals who are still able to make some insulin on their own, although it also works in people who do not.

In one notable study, researchers gave a GLP-1 agonist to 11 people with type 1 diabetes who were still able to produce some insulin. To get an estimate of insulin production, they measured levels of a molecule called C-peptide, which is produced at the same time as insulin. In these 11 individuals, C-peptide concentrations increased after GLP-1 treatment. By the 12-week mark, they had decreased their insulin dosage by over 60%. Incredibly, five people were not requiring any insulin at all. Even though the study was very small, the results were exciting, because it was the first study to suggest that some people with type 1 diabetes had sufficient insulin reserve and thus, could – at least temporarily – be treated without insulin.

Can SGLT-2 inhibitors be used in type 1 diabetes?

SGLT-2 inhibitors like Farxiga have also shown tremendous potential. In two large studies called DEPICT-1 and DEPICT-2, adults with type 1 diabetes were randomly assigned to take either placebo or SGLT-2 inhibitor in combination with insulin. Over 700 people from 17 different countries participated in DEPICT-1, and over 800 people with type 1 diabetes participated in DEPICT-2. At the end of 24 weeks, people taking dapaglifozin had a percent A1C that was lower, on average, by 0.4 compared to people who had received placebo, and it was still lower, by over 0.3, at 52 weeks. The number of hypoglycemic events was similar in both groups.

As with GLP-1 agonists, people taking SGLT-2 inhibitors had weight loss and decreased insulin requirements. People taking SGLT-2 inhibitor, however, did have an increased risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). If individuals consider this therapy, they should be cautious about not missing meals or insulin, and not drinking large amounts of alcohol, as these behaviors can lead to increased ketone production.

Several other research groups, in trials recruiting up to 1000 individuals, have seen similar results when using this class of medications.  Researchers have been conducting additional studies to try to determine how best to minimize the risks associated with them. Farxiga (called Forxiga in Europe) has now been approved as the first oral agent as an adjunct treatment for type 1 diabetes in Europe and Japan.

Promising Combination Therapy

Now, endocrinologists are also looking at whether GLP-1 agonist and SGLT-2 inhibitor combination therapy could increase the benefits of each of these treatments. A study conducted on a small number of people showed that GLP-1 agonists can help prevent ketone production, so it is theoretically possible that this medication could reduce the risk of DKA that was seen with SGLT-2 inhibitors.

In an early study involving 30 people with type 1 diabetes who were already on GLP-agonist and insulin were randomly assigned to take SGLT-2 inhibitor or placebo, as well. People who received both drugs saw an 0.7% reduction in A1C values after 12 weeks, without any additional hypoglycemia. People on the SGLT-2 inhibitor did make more ketones, though, and two individuals in the combination group experienced DKA. Larger studies are now being conducted to expand on these results and learn more about how to give these drugs safely. The hope is that non-insulin therapies will soon be approved for type 1 diabetes. By unlocking the potential of these therapies, we can do more than manage blood glucose levels – we can improve people’s lives.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) at 30,000 Feet

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By PK Hrezo

Twist of Fate?

It’s coincidental, if not oddly poetic, that type 1 diabetes presented itself to my family and me for the first time just two weeks before National Diabetes Awareness Month — a time we won’t soon forget.

Until that night, I thought type 1 diabetes (T1D) was something that kids were born with. I never thought it could be presented at any stage of life. I’d participated in JDRF walks before for friends and charity, so I knew the bare minimum. It had never been suggested to me by medical professionals that T1D was something all parents should keep an eye out for. Perhaps I hadn’t consulted the Parent Handbook regularly enough. But face-to-face with T1D for the first time, it was clear, I was on the brink of full-on parental guilt.

T1D did not run in our family, but that was the first question the ER doctor asked me while my thirteen-year-old daughter Abby was lying on the ER stretcher, nearly comatose, during a severe DKA episode in Halifax, Nova Scotia on October 19th, 2019.

DKA

Image source: Beyond Type 1

I was far from home, away from my husband, family and friends, and I was shell-shocked.

The Backstory

Abby and I had been planning a girl’s weekend to Paris for years, just the two of us, and it was to be the weekend of October 18th. Abby was beyond excited, which now, looking back, is probably what propelled her through the symptoms that we ignored as pre-DKA indicators. But we didn’t know. All we knew was that Abby had been under the weather for about a week – not herself, more tired than usual, and her ear had been bothering her just enough to prompt us to see the family doctor before getting on a plane.

We saw a nurse practitioner who checked Abby’s vitals and said her throat was red, but no ear fluid, and that she’d be okay for travel with some Mucinex. That night, Abby didn’t sleep at all. She woke up and stayed up for most of the night with indigestion. When she looked exhausted the next morning, we chalked it up to a bad night’s sleep.

Once we got to our connection at Chicago O’Hare, Abby seemed to be even more exhausted than before. Looking back, I realize the altitude from the plane ride from Tampa to Chicago had an adverse effect on her already gradual decline into DKA. She was uncomfortable in any position, and very thirsty for sweet, juicy-type drinks. She had an apple juice, a smoothie, a sweet tea with honey – all of these, unbeknownst to me, were contributing to the high sugars that would send her into DKA. I thought I was keeping her hydrated to flush out the virus, but sadly, all I was doing was shoveling more sugars into her bloodstream.

When Abby looked at me during our long layover and said she thought Paris would be a bad idea, I was both glad she’d owned up to it and puzzled by her sudden change. Of course, I wanted to do what was best for her. She mentioned one of our backup destinations — somewhere closer where we could still have our mother-daughter weekend but relax without the hustle and bustle of a busy city. We were already part of the way to another place, so we chose a pleasant B&B in Halifax, where it’d be autumn and beautiful. I made our arrangements and we headed to the next gate.

In Hindsight

If I could redo that day, I wouldn’t have put her on a plane to Canada, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have made a different mistake. I might have booked a room in Chicago, so we could rest and she could sleep it off, which could have been fatal, since I still didn’t know she was in near-DKA.

I called my husband and told him how Abby was behaving, and that we’d changed plans. He was surprised, but agreed she likely just needed rest. That was also about the time doubt squirmed its way into my mind. People were beginning to stare at her. She was stumbling to the bathroom, and she just kept saying she was tired and needed to sleep. I was eager to get out of the airport and settle down somewhere so we could get back to normal. Little did I know, that normal had left us for good.

We pressed on and boarded the aircraft, and after about thirty minutes into the flight, my mommy senses went full-on haywire. What had I done? Something was wrong with Abby — I had no idea what, only that something wasn’t right, and it was too late for us to turn around. Tears welled in my eyes and I stared out the window wondering how I could’ve made such a big mistake.

Completely in the Dark

Abby could hardly hold her cup of ice she’d been munching on. She was dropping everything, and I was getting frustrated, because I’d never seen her that way, and I knew something was happening that she wasn’t telling me. “Talk to me,” I kept saying to her. “I don’t understand what’s going on.”

But Abby didn’t understand what was happening to her either. She complained that her lungs were hurting. Her lungs? I didn’t know if she was exaggerating or if she was having an allergy attack. How did all of those symptoms measure up to exhaustion and a virus? It didn’t make any sense.

Abby got up to use the bathroom again and was gone for quite a while — this is what I now know as T1D’s excessive peeing symptom. I was just about to go check on her, when she returned to our seat and laid over me. Her voice was barely audible when she complained again of her lungs hurting.

“Is there a doctor here?” she asked me in hardly a whisper.

“No,” I told her calmly. “But we’ll find one when we land.”

My nerves spiraled. I was, without a doubt, the worst mom ever. I decided that as soon as we landed, I’d call 911. We were halfway there. I held Abby as she laid over me in the row. And then she began to breathe heavily and rapidly.

I rubbed my hand up and down her arm. The stark difference between my hand temperature and hers was so alarming that I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer.

“Wait here,” I told her, and I beelined for the back of the plane where the two flight attendants stood in the galley.

“Can you see if there is a doctor onboard?” I asked. “I think there’s something wrong with my daughter.”

Team Work

Without hesitation, the flight attendants sprung into action and all the lights on the aircraft came on. While everything was moving in a blur for me, I returned to Abby and a passenger seated behind us, Nick Wasser, popped up as the announcement was made and identified himself as a nurse.

I explained Abby’s symptoms and everything up to that point, and a minute later, two more professionals appeared: Dr. Peter Laureijs and his wife, Beth, also a nurse. The flight attendants had oxygen and medical kits and they moved the passenger from the bulkhead row, so that Abby could be laid there on the floor. The doctor and nurses attended to her with great care, administering oxygen and checking her vitals.

I whispered a prayer and asked God for courage to get through whatever was to come, and that He might save my daughter. I remember very well, the moment when the woman in the adjacent row, Nick’s wife, Johanna, reached her hand over and lay it on mine, with tears in her eyes and said, “If you need anything, I’m right here.” The flight attendants checked on me throughout the remainder of the flight and made sure I was okay. They were in communication with the flight deck, and the pilots opted not to divert, but instead speed up the plane to get us to Halifax sooner, where IWK Health Centre would know how to care for whatever was wrong with Abby.

DKA

Image source: Beyond Type 1

They’d administered an IV by then, and that’s what saved Abby’s life, because unbeknownst to me she was dehydrating by the minute, as her bloodstream was filled with all that sugar that couldn’t be processed.

An ambulance waited on the tarmac when we landed. I could see their flashing lights out the window, and an announcement was made for no one to move until the EMTs had boarded and retrieved Abby. We started moving through the airport and Border Patrol gave me temporary paperwork and told me to call later after we knew what was going on. They wanted to make sure Abby wasn’t contagious, rightfully so, and that we weren’t bringing disease into Canada. At that point, we still had no idea what was happening.

On the ambulance, the EMT said her glucose level was 30 mmol/L (540 mg/DL). That didn’t mean anything to me. I said she’d had a lot of sweet drinks and nothing really to eat, so it was no surprise they were high. I was so naïve to the symptoms of T1D.

Learning the Ropes

The EMTs and ER staff that met us at IWK were all top-notch professionals with such warmth about them, that I never once felt alone, nor judged for my epic mom fail. While Abby was transferred to a bed and hooked up to all kinds of tubes, the ER doctor asked me a ton of questions, one of which was if diabetes was in the family.

“No,” I said informatively.

This is diabetes,” he said. “I can smell the ketones from here.”

“Ketones? What the heck are ketones?”

A word I’d later come to be acquainted with on a much deeper level. T1D had just blindsided me in a T-bone collision. Welcome to your new life. How had I not known? How had the doctor back home not identified it? Did this happen to other kids Abby’s age? Why did it wait so long to show up?

I stepped out and called my husband, and he, too, was in denial at first, insisting she’d probably just had a lot of sugar. Then I mentioned what the doctor said about smelling ketones, and it hit Nate like an anvil.

“Holy cow!” he said. “That’s what I smelled yesterday, remember? I said you need to brush your teeth because your breath smelled, and I thought it was you. I can’t believe I didn’t recognize it!”

Nate is a fire chief in Tarpon Springs and has thirteen years of experience in the EMT/first responder profession, and he has run across T1D patients a number of times.

Abby was admitted to PICU a few hours later where she was tended to by sweet, caring nurses for the next forty-eight hours, and where I would begin googling words and terms I’d never known before, in hopes of learning a lifetime worth of information within a couple of days.

Every time an ICU nurse would come in, I’d fire off questions, one of which being: “Does this type of thing happen very often?” One of the nurses said that in the last three months, they’d had eight cases of pediatric DKA where the parents had no idea that their child was T1D. After ICU, we moved to a room on the children’s ward, where we were introduced to managing T1D on our own. I was trained to use a glucometer and give insulin injections, and how to count carbs.

Making Sense of It All

I posted on Facebook when we finally returned home to Tampa. Sharing the signs of DKA with other parents seemed a priority, in hopes others could learn from my mistake. After my Facebook post went viral, I was contacted by so many other T1D parents and patients who have similar stories. So many of whom were turned away from doctors and ERs who also thought nothing was wrong.

I was an anxious ball of nerves when Abby and I finally received the okay to travel home to Tampa, because I’d be in charge of her insulin doses on my own for the first time. Since I learned dosages and glucose readings in Canadian measurements, I had to retrain my brain to switch over.

DKA

Image source: Beyond Type 1

The IWK nurses stayed in close contact with me throughout our journey home and advised me on what dosage to give after each blood reading. We had a doctor’s appointment the following morning with our new Tampa-based pediatric endocrinologist, and after one delayed flight to Newark, and another delayed flight to Tampa, we muddled through our insulin injections, and were able to get home and begin our new normal.

Together, our family is planning healthier food options with fewer carbs. We are making Abby’s lifestyle change our lifestyle change, we’re all watching our sugar intake. Once at home, I realized how fortunate we were to get help when we needed it, and I realized I didn’t know one of the nurse’s names from the flight. I also wanted to find out the flight crew of UA5596 so I could thank them. I made a Facebook post one morning asking others to help me find them, and I received an overwhelming response.

The post received almost 6K shares from people eager to pass on Abby’s story. The T1D community embraced me in a way I’ll forever be grateful for. Instead of feeling alone with this condition, I feel a part of something so much bigger than a crummy auto-immune disease, and I know a wealth of resources and support are waiting online should I need it.

While Abby and my weekend had not been the one of culture and mother-daughter bonding we’d hoped for, we found something else equally important. We learned that we are both stronger than we think, and that love and faith will get us through anything. We gained a new respect for life and its fragility, and humanity proved it’s still full of compassion. Since that fateful October night, Abby and I have been invited into a community of fellow T1Ds we never knew existed, and we’re reminded that there is strength in numbers, and that people truly are eager to help when given the chance. We are not alone.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

DKA at Diagnosis May Affect Brain Development in Children

A recent study found that young children who experience one moderate or severe case of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) may be at risk for changes in their longitudinal cognitive and brain development. DKA is a life-threatening condition that is frequently observed in young children who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The symptoms of DKA […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

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