This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.
By Eliza Skoler
With pandemic restrictions lifting, how can you best take care of your diabetes and your health?
As countries around the world and states across the US begin to loosen social distancing restrictions, you may have questions about how to take care of your health in this new environment. In some places, restrictions are still prevalent, while other places have almost entirely reopened. This, in combination with all the different messages and reports in the news each day, can make it hard to know how people with diabetes should approach safety during the ongoing pandemic.
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- What is the general advice for people, whether or not they have diabetes?
- What is the advice for people with diabetes?
- What should I do if my area reopens?
- What precautions should I take if I need to travel?
- Should I go to in-person diabetes medical appointments?
- What is an antibody test and should I get one?
- When will it be safe to visit people?
- You can read about the plan for US reopening here, as outlined by the CDC and the White House.
Continue to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. Disinfect surfaces and objects that you or people in your household touch often. Wear face coverings when in public settings. Continue to minimize contact with other people as much as possible.
If you feel sick, do not go to work or to school, and contact your healthcare professional for advice.
If you have diabetes and your blood glucose levels are often higher than your target, you may be at higher risk for more severe illness from COVID-19. Older adults and people with other underlying medical conditions are also at increased risk for severe infection.
You should take extra care and maintain social distancing as much as possible, even as things reopen.
To best protect your health, continue to social distance. Stay home as much as possible. Keep up your protective measures: as noted, wash your hands frequently and wear a face mask if you have to go out in public.
As cities and states reopen and people interact more, it’s certainly more than possible (many experts say it’s likely) that another wave of COVID-19 infection will occur. By minimizing your contact with other people, you can reduce your chances of getting sick.
The CDC recommends avoiding all travel, if possible. This will reduce your chances of getting or spreading COVID-19. Given the uncertainty of travel restrictions, if you travel you will run the risk of not being allowed to return home.
If you do need to travel, here’s what you should do to protect yourself and others:
- Wash your hands frequently, or use hand sanitizer.
- Wear a cloth face mask the entire time you are in public, and avoid touching the mask.
- Don’t touch your face if you haven’t washed your hands.
- Avoid contact with people, staying at least six feet away from others at all times.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes, and wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces on airplanes, in cars, and in hotels or rental properties.
- Make sure your vaccines are up-to-date, including the seasonal flu shot and the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Different types of travel (airplane, bus, car) all come with different risks – make sure you think through what risks you will face in transit, and how you can reduce the spread of germs.
If you return home from international travel, be prepared to self-quarantine in your home for 14 days to monitor any signs of illness.
Talk to your healthcare professional to see if virtual visits are an option for you – many healthcare teams are offering telemedicine appointments, so that you can discuss your diabetes management without coming into contact with other people. Click to read about preparing for telemedicine appointments or watch our video on telemedicine during COVID-19.
As your healthcare team whether it is safe and important for you to visit the clinic for regular diabetes management. For emergencies, contact your healthcare team immediately, to see if you should visit the emergency room.
An antibody test is used to evaluate whether you were already infected by COVID-19. If your body was exposed to COVID-19, fought off the virus (whether or not you had symptoms), and recovered, you will have special proteins in your blood that remember the virus and help you fight it; these are called antibodies. Antibodies against COVID-19 mean that your body is better prepared to fight the virus. However, scientists do not yet know whether antibodies will protect you from getting COVID-19 again, if you already had it.
If you think you were exposed to COVID-19 and are wondering whether your body already fought the infection, you can talk to your healthcare team to see if an antibody test is an option.
- If you test “positive” with an antibody test, it means that you’ve likely already had COVID-19 and have some protection against getting it again. If you have no coronavirus symptoms when you get the antibody test you probably are not still sick or contagious.
- If you test “negative” with an antibody test, it shows that your body has not previously recovered from a COVID-19 infection. This could mean two things: 1) you have never been infected with the virus and could still get it, or 2) you have a current infection and could be contagious. If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should get tested for the virus.
For many people, a positive antibody test would be a reason to go back to their “normal” lives, pre-COVID, without fear of infection with the virus. Antibody tests are also used to track the spread of the virus.
For the time being, the CDC continues to recommend social distancing, meaning that you should avoid coming into contact with other people. In the future, once broader testing and virus tracking is in place, it will be less risky to visit others.
We will continue to update this article as more information becomes available. Click here to read more of our articles on COVID-19.