Health And Family

Diabetes in the time of COVID-19: Doctor gives tips to manage disease during pandemic

Maridol Ranoa-Bismark - Philstar.com
Diabetes in the time of COVID-19: Doctor gives tips to manage disease during pandemic
How then can diabetics escape COVID-19’s deadly claws?
Peejhunt via Pixabay

MANILA, Philippines — Diabetes may not seem as scary as cancer, but it is as deadly as the Big C.

In his article titled "Diabetes Care in the Philippines," Dr. Gerry Tan says that the incidence of the disease is growing at an alarming rate in Asia, including the Philippines. He attributes this to a sedentary lifestyle due to  rapid urbanization.

The Health Department lists diabetes as one of the leading causes of death in the Philippines (along with heart ailments, cancer, tuberculosis and others). In 2016, the Philippine Center for Diabetes Education Foundation revealed that over six million Filipinos are diagnosed with diabetes, a chronic illness arising from high sugar levels in the blood.

Dr. John Anthony Duenas, an internist (adult diseases specialist) blames the Filipinos’ love for rice, which some consider merienda fare. Duenas also observes that unlike their grandparents, today’s generation are fond of fastfood and deliveries like donuts, pizza, spaghetti, cakes, and now, milk tea. Kakanin or rice cakes is another favorite.

According to him, the perils of diabetes have intensified, now that novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is upon us.

“Diabetics are more susceptible to infections including COVID-19 because they have defective immune systems. They become severe and worst cases when they get infected with COVID. Some, especially those with long-standing uncontrolled diabetes who got infected with COVID, are more difficult to treat. Their cases are more complicated because they may already have complications such as kidney failure, peripheral vascular disease or problem with circulation, coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease or stroke,” he revealed.

The doctor, Duenas said, must address these complicating factors in treating diabetes. He added that our bodies perceive infections like COVID-19 as stress. So the blood sugar should be monitored regularly and would be difficult to control.

Duenas explained that this is why it is important to control diabetes and strive for a normal blood sugar level during this time of the pandemic. This also explains why diabetics, the elderly, those below 12 years old, the hypertensives, and those with pre-existing lung conditions, belong to the vulnerable population these days.

How then can diabetics escape COVID-19’s deadly claws?

Duenas offered the same pieces of advice as he would to other people without diabetes: avoid person-to-person contact. Wear a  face mask. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands and sanitize surfaces often. More importantly, stay home unless absolutely necessary since some COVID-19 transmitters are asymptomatic.

Pre-diabetics, he said, must make lifestyle changes to keep their condition from worsening. They must follow a low-carbohydrate diet, exercise for at least 30 minutes daily, at least five days a week, and avoid cigarette and alcohol. They must also check their blood sugar regularly.

For more tips on diabetes, the Dueñas Medical & Children’s Clinic offers a free webinar titled “Mabuti Pa Ang Langgam Alam- A Lay Forum on Diabetes” on Friday, June 12, 10 a.m. to noon. Resource person is diabetologist  Dr. Ma. Leny Alda Gerona- Jusayan.

The webinar, the first of a series of online talks on health concerns called “KaTalk Mo si Doc,” will be streamed live via Zoom and viewed on the clinic’s Facebook page, Duenasclinic. To watch, like the FB page and click on the livestream video.

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