Why Do Diabetics Need to be Cautious About Omicron Variant?

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Surajeet Kumar Patra, MBBS, MD, FDIAB, MBA & APMP January 18, 2022

Diabetes and Omicron

Day-by-day, Omicron cases are rising rapidly globally. This variant of SARS-COV-2 was first detected in South Africa on November 9th. Omicron has been tearing around the world. It’s creating record numbers of Covid-19 cases day after day. India, Denmark, France, Italy, Australia, Britain, and South Africa are at the lead of this intensifying wave of infections. Yet, Omicron has reached not less than 113 other countries, as well. Amid this difficult situation, experts suggest complete vaccination to people. People can build their natural immunity by:

  • vaccination
  • doing regular exercises, and
  • consuming an antioxidant-rich diet.

Things to Do When You are Diabetics During Covid-19

People with chronic problems (diabetes and hypertension) must be cautious amid the rising cases of Covid. They should put their health on priority at all costs. Diabetics have a low immunity power. And, diabetics must:

  • keep their glucose levels controlled
  • discuss with their doctors
  • use insulin as per need
  • get both the doses of vaccine

Also, diabetics must take care of their weight and exercise regularly. Obesity may increase the possibility of getting severe problem. The combination of diabetes and obesity is particularly deadly. It is a must for every diabetic to keep their weight in check.

Being overweight damages a person’s health. Such a person can contract serious form of Covid infection. Increased weight can increase the chances of Covid-19 as per experts. Diet also plays a major role in avoiding infections or illnesses. It is suggested to have an antioxidant-rich diet to protect against viruses. Add antioxidants such as fruits, nuts, and salads in the diet. Antioxidants avoid any new type of damage to a person’s DNA. It is recommended to have a handful of nuts (30 gm or 1 ounce) per day. This helps in defending the body against infections and diseases.

Omicron variant is making people ill at a fast pace. People with comorbidities like diabetes are at a higher risk!

It is a must to take care of health and health problems. If a person is using inhalers, insulin or any treatment for underlying conditions, take them regularly and discuss with doctors.

Amid the uncertainty in relation to the recent Omicron variant of COVID-19, they are numerous myths or rumours. Rather than worrying about these, it is important to follow some guidelines to be at a safe level. If a person is diabetic, he or she must exercise precautionary measures.

Precautions to Lower the Risk

  1. COVID-19 appropriate behaviour: Wear an N-95 mask. Mask must be of a good fit or double mask. Do not move in crowded places. Follow hand hygiene, wash hands with soap and water. Sanitize the frequently touched surfaces at home. Hand outside things with utmost care using sanitizing practices.
  2. Monitor the levels of blood sugar: Regularly track the glucose levels more frequently than before. Keep a record of the readings. Carry out HbA1C test every 3 months. This gives a better picture of blood glucose levels over 3 months. Ensure that the levels lie in the healthy range as per doctor’s suggestion. As, uncontrolled blood glucose levels may bring a risk of other health complications. And, also it may be a reason for serious illness because of Covid.
  3. Diet: Consume a balanced and nutritious diet low in sugars and unhealthy fats. Do not consume processed, deep-fried, packaged food and drinks. Consume only freshly prepared homemade food, fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, etc. Avoid over-consuming nutraceuticals, herbal remedies, etc. without discussing with a doctor.
  4. Medications: Take all the recommended medications regularly. If a person lacks vitamin D and (or) vitamin B12, discuss with a doctor about it. And, maintain the lab reports in the normal range.
  5. Daily Physical Activity: Never miss out the daily walks or exercises. Do not stop doing exercises due to Covid-19. Rather, a person must do their indoor activities like before. For example, a person may practice different Asanas of Yoga. Do them indoors. Practice moderate to high energy dance forms. Also, a person can do spot sprinting and static jogging.
  6. Vaccination: While, exercises help in boosting the immunity, there’s no better option over vaccines. A person must definitely get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Along with these, go for a precautionary dose (booster dose) as well.

Must-have equipment for every diabetic

A diabetic patient must have all these equipments available at home:

  • Thermometer
  • A Glucometer
  • A Pulse Oximeter
  • Enough supply of sanitisers and face masks
  • Sufficient stock of all emergency medicines and diabetes drugs.

Symptoms of Omicron

Watch out for these:

  • Cough
  • Cold and sneezing
  • Feeling tired
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Headache (severe)
  • Sore throat, scratchy throat
  • Fever or chills
  • Nasal and/or chest congestion

A person can experience signs or no signs and still be Covid positive. Many people are asymptomatic (with no signs). Also, there are people with mild symptoms and even serious signs.

Is there any difference between the signs of Omicron and previous variants?

No visible differences between the early signs of Delta and Omicron. All these above cold symptoms have been reported for Omicron.

Diabetes and Omicron

Necessary steps if anyone has Omicron symptoms

Never panic in case of any of the above-stated signs of Omicron. The first important thing in such circumstances is to be watchful and decisive. A person must prevent the infection from spreading to family or dear ones. Here’s what a person can do:

  • Isolate or quarantine yourself. A well-ventilated room of house is suitable.
  • Discuss the symptoms with a doctor (tele-consultation).
  • Get a Covid self-test or RT PCR test.
  • Inform doctor regarding medical history of diabetes, any other medical problem, and list of all ongoing medicines.
  • If possible, discuss with a diabetologist as well.

Follow the course of treatment as given by a doctor. 

Constantly track:

  • pulse
  • blood glucose levels
  • oxygen saturation levels (SpO2)
  • body temperature
  • Have a lot of healthy fluids and a balanced diet.

Immediately discuss with a doctor or move to a hospital if:

  • The blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) level falls less than 93.
  • A person has a sudden loss of consciousness.
  • A person has a frequent or constant high fever (above 100 degrees).
  • There are sudden changes in the glucose levels.
  • There is a significant difficulty breathing.
  • A person feels hugely nauseous and is vomiting often.
  • A person experiences frequent pain or discomfort in the chest.

Sick day guidelines for diabetics:

  • Whenever person notices any of the Omicron signs, contact with a doctor telephonically.
  • If a person feels his or her signs are worsening, don’t hesitate to look for a medical help.
  • In case of severe blood sugar variations, consult the diabetologist or a doctor instantly.

Also Read: Type 2 Diabetes – Can it be Reversed Permanently?

Use of insulin:

A person can experience sudden fall in insulin levels. This may lead to a sudden increase in blood glucose levels. In such cases, consult a doctor without delay. Few oral diabetes medicines are not well tolerated during serious illness. The doctor can regulate the dosage of the ongoing diabetes medicine and begin insulin too.

Here, the vital thing is not to fear. Once a person recovers, there are high chances of dose adjustments once again. Doctor may discontinue the recently added insulin injections.

Dietary tips

To end, one of the most vital things to remember is consuming a healthy diet. A person must have small frequent meals all over the day. This helps in keeping the metabolism regular. A person must consume food low in sugar and easy to digest. Do not consume too many fried foods and food dense with fibre. It is best to choose:

  • fresh fruits
  • veggie salad
  • sprouts
  • light meals like Upma and Idli.

For breakfast, one can opt for oatmeal or daliya. In lunch, one can choose fresh green veggies, paneer, soybeans, dal, etc. For dinner, a person can consume light soup and some veggies, khichdi, and whole wheat breads or roti.  A person must also remain hydrated. This helps in keeping the electrolyte levels steady and stable.

Diabetics are at a greater risk of severe complications due to Covid.

After contracting Covid-19 infection, Diabetics have a:

  • higher risk of hospitalization
  • longer hospital stays
  • higher need for ICU admission and intubation

COVID-19 linked mortality is also higher in diabetics. COVID-19 may also precipitate serious complications of diabetes:

  • diabetic ketoacidosis
  • severe insulin resistance

These manifestations and a new diagnosis of diabetes can occur. This might occur because of:

  • severe inflammatory response to the virus
  • beta-cell injury
  • critical sickness.

Summary

If you are a diabetic, you must know how the COVID-19 virus can impact your health. Information on Covid-19 is getting updated every day. Chronic health conditions might increase the severity of this infection.

FAQs:

Does Omicron result in diabetes?

No, there is no data for supporting this.

Is there any need to work about DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis)?

DKA may occur to individuals with constant uncontrolled high blood glucose levels. The range can be more than 300 mg/dL. Watch for signs like:

  1. Loss of/altered consciousness
  2. Confusion
  3. Nausea/vomiting
  4. Fatigue
  5. Fruity odour from breath
  6. Abdominal pain

Instantly, test for urine ketones and discuss with a doctor. DKA is a medical emergency. It needs proper management in a hospital.

Is there any difference between the Omicron risks for people with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Not enough data to demonstrate the difference. However, people with either type of diabetes are at a higher risk of complications.

Do diabetics have a higher chance of Omicron infection?

There is not enough data to suggest the same. Yet, having diabetes might increase the severity of an Omicron infection.

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 

Disclaimer

The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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