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Diabetes and COVID-19: Staying healthy during the pandemic

Did you know? November is National Diabetes Month

All over America, health providers and groups like Health Share of Oregon/CareOregon are working extra hard to raise awareness about diabetes. This is even more important this year with the coronavirus (COVID-19). Why? Because if you are living with chronic diseases, like diabetes, you are more likely to get sicker if you get COVID-19. But there is good news! You can help lower your risk of getting very sick if you do get COVID-19 by staying on top of your diabetes care. Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Know your numbers! Keep your HbA1c under control 

     Your HbA1c level helps tell your health care providers how good or bad your blood sugar levels are. This is very important when you have diabetes. If the level is too high, you may need to make some changes to your lifestyle, like:

    • Testing your blood sugar at home regularly.
    • Getting more exercise.
    • Watching what you eat more.

      Your primary care provider (PCP) can talk with you about what your blood sugar and HbA1c levels should be, and they can make sure you know how often to test. They can also tell you what you can do to help keep your HbA1c at a healthy level.

  2. Don’t forget to take your medication
  3. The medications your PCP prescribes for you are a very important part of managing your diabetes. Here are some ideas to help you take your meds the way you are supposed to:

    • Set and follow a schedule. Take your meds at the same time every day.
    • Use a pill box. If you take pills for your diabetes, a pill box can help you remember if you’ve taken them or not.
    • Set an alarm on your phone or use an app. There are free apps that you can download on your phone. These apps can remind you to take your meds, and even help you track your blood sugar.
    • Get help when you need it. If you’re having trouble sticking with your meds, talk to your PCP or pharmacist about things you can do to make it easier. The American Diabetes Association also has many great resources.
  4. See your dentist

    Make sure you keep getting regular cleanings from your dentist. If you haven’t seen your dentist in a while, make an appointment now. You can reach your dentist by calling the number on your Health Share of Oregon Member ID card. Dental care is important for everyone. But it’s even more important for people living with diabetes. That’s because diabetes can cause changes in your oral health, especially your gums. Stay on top of your diabetes care and see your dentist regularly, and you can help stop oral health problems before they start.

  5. Take care of your kidneys
  6. Another problem that diabetes can cause is kidney disease. High blood sugar can change the way your kidneys work, and that can lead to kidney damage. The better you keep your diabetes under control, the less chance you have of getting kidney disease. How do you do that? Just by doing what you’re already doing:

    • Staying on top of your blood sugar levels.
    • Keep taking any medications that your provider has prescribed.
    • Trying to eat a healthier diet. That means more foods like vegetables and lean meats, and less salt and sugar.

    You should also talk to your PCP about getting a kidney function test. This will help them know if your diabetes may be changing how your kidneys work.

  7. Get those eyes checked
  8.  

    If you are living with diabetes, you should get regular, yearly eye exams. That’s because diabetes can cause problems with your eyesight. In fact, diabetes can even lead to blindness if it isn’t managed. Eye exams are a covered benefit for CareOregon members who have diabetes. So be sure to talk to your PCP about setting up regular appointments.

Questions? We’re here to help you

If you have any questions about diabetes and how to manage it, especially during COVID-19, call your PCP or our Customer Service. 503-416-4100 or toll-free 800-224-4840, TTY 711. You can also send us a secure message through our member portal at careoregon.org/portal

More helpful resources

How COVID-19 Impacts People with Diabetes

Monitoring Your Blood Sugar

Taking Medications

Diabetes and Your Smile

Diabetes – A Major Risk Factor for Kidney Disease

5 Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Eyes