Managing diabetes during the COVID‑19 pandemic

Closeup of Joshua Neumiller.
Joshua Neumiller

The deleterious impact that the COVID-19 virus has on people living with diabetes is now well known. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people living with diabetes are at higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19.  When the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a non-profit that seeks to educate the public about diabetes, had to quickly pull together a panel of experts to study the impact the virus has on people living with diabetes, they called on WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences professor, Joshua Neumiller, who has dedicated his professional life to researching diabetes.

“It is clear that diabetes…increases the risk for poorer COVID-19 outcomes via increased lengths of stay [at the hospital], need for mechanical ventilation, and certainly mortality,” said Neumiller in his latest podcast with the ADA.

The COVID-19 Expert Advisor Panel researches and studies a broad range of areas to provide guidance to the ADA, consumers and health care professionals. The panel will provide rapid communication and best practice to health care professionals across multiple disciplines.

In his podcast with the ADA, Neumiller discusses recommendations on medication when caring for individuals with diabetes.

According to Neumiller, one of the best ways people living with diabetes can prepare is to ensure that they have several weeks’ worth of supplies, such as insulin or necessities needed to measure blood glucose to minimize trips to the pharmacy and subsequently decrease the risk of exposure. Should an individual contract the virus, it would also ensure that they have the supplies needed if they are quarantined.

“I’ve been talking to folks who have COVID-19 and are at home managing it themselves and don’t require hospital care and there is the other group who have diabetes and are fearful. For those folks, it’s really reinforcement of sick day management and what they should be thinking about should they become ill,” said Neumiller.

Neumiller also recommends that health care providers should get a thorough and accurate representation of a patient’s medications when they are admitted to a hospital for COVID-19 symptoms. Many drugs prescribed to people with diabetes, such as metformin and SGLT2 inhibitors, can impact patients under respiratory distress.

Still, the ADA and Neumiller say that the lack of clear data on many medications such as the interaction between COVID-19 and NSAIDS, like ibuprofen, has caused some whiplash for many health care providers and patients monitoring their medications. The most important thing, according to Neumiller, is to follow evidence-based data.

You can listen to Neumiller’s podcast with the ADA online and access ADA resources on how to manage diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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