A Dose of Dr. E: Coronavirus and Diabetes: Are We Really More at Risk?


Video Transcription:

Hello Nation,

Today we’re going to talk about the coronavirus and diabetes.

Is it true that people with diabetes, like myself, have a higher risk of getting the coronavirus? The answer is…just like adult diapers, it depends.

If your glucose control is really good, your A1C is around 7, your risk for getting the coronavirus is no higher than anybody else in the community. But, if your glucose control is not good, let’s just say your hemoglobin a1c is 8.5 or 9% or higher, your average blood sugars are above 200, you’re at risk not only for getting the coronavirus more than anybody else, but for any type of infection. So that’s really important.

Now, what if you have underlying medical conditions – heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease? That puts anybody at a higher risk not only for getting the virus, but also for having a hard time getting rid of it and getting healthy again.

Now, what are the signs and symptoms of the coronavirus and are they different in people with diabetes?

Well, don’t forget I have diabetes, and I’m also a doctor so I know something about this area. It is: fever, cough, sore throat, and the one that really worries a lot of us healthcare professionals, shortness of breath. So that’s basically the same – they symptoms are no different for people with diabetes.

What about the therapies? Once again, no different. Drink lots of fluids, take over the counter medications such as: throat lozenges, if you have a sore throat, cough medicines to suppress your cough, maybe some Nyquil if you’re congested, and bring down your fever with Tylenol. Many medications such as Advil and Motrin, they’re anti-inflammatories and they’re kind of hard on the kidneys. So if you have diabetes and you have some kidney issues, really stay away from those medications.

So it’s really important to know that, what we need to do that’s different than the average person, we’ve got to control our blood sugars. What happens to our blood sugars with the coronavirus? Do they go up, or do they go down? Once again it depends. For some people that are really under good control and they may not have a good appetite, or they’re on insulin, you’ve got to watch out for low blood sugar. Other people with type 2 diabetes, any type of medical stress can raise your blood sugars, and who knows, maybe you’re eating at home more than you normally would and not getting any exercise.

So the bottom line is, it’s variable, and you need to test your blood sugar. For those of us who have a continuous glucose monitor, that makes it really easy. For those of you who have to prick your finger, I’m so sorry. But it’s important that you test MORE now than you normally would. So in closing, Nation, remember, stay calm, we’re going to get through this, and stay healthy. Until the next time we come on with some more advice. So long!

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    THANK YOU, I’m a T2 only on my second year and you are lovely to listen to, clear & concise !!
    I’m down from a 14 A1C almost 2 years ago with my diabetic incident to a 5 with daily BS test of on average 110 overall. I appreciate you taking the time to keep us all informed. I have attended the big SD conference & the little mini conf at Scripps Mem hospital conf room. They have all been very good, informative, good speakers and a nice group of people.
    Thank you again!
    MaryAnn T.

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    Thanks so much for this Dr. Edelman!

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    I just want to thank you for your addressing this topic. As a Type 1 Diabetic you made me feel so much better and gave me hope.
    Thank you so much! You and your team are amazing! Keep on doing your great work!

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      Thanks Debra! There’s a lot of confusing information out there, so happy to be able to help! Take good care!

    • Steven Edelman

      Debra..thanks so much..we need to support each other in times like this. We will get through this and we will be stronger for it.

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        My HBa1c although lower last time, a lot of time it is higher than 10, my readings can be as high as 14.0, sometimes higher, in the mornings, I also have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, what my risks be of getting over covid19

        • Hi Jane,
          Based on the bounce of your A1c, you may not be as adherent with your medications as you should be. If that is the case then you must be more consistent. Your history of high A1cs definitely put you at a higher risk for infection and recovery from infection. People with underlying conditionals like high blood pressure are likely to be at greater risk for infection as well. Be diligent about social distancing, washing your hands and following all the precautionary guidelines. If you do come down with COVID, make sure to keep your fluid intake up, check your blood sugars more often, take Tylenol if you have a fever, rest, and if your symptoms worsen seek medical assistance.

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    Thank you Dr E. But what about poor control makes a diabetic more susceptible?? Is it the excess sugar in the blood or something else? And are Diabetics more like to die from Covid19 when they get the the virus??

    I’ve been to many of the TCOYD conferences (I’m a groupie) and my A1C has been 6.1 – 6.2 since you saved my life by referring me to Dr. Weinstock at one of the conferences years ago! But I’ve been diabetic since 1969 and regardless of my control I want to understand the mechanism where diabetics are more susceptible

    • Steven Edelman

      Hello Barbara…the reason why poor control makes anyone more at risk for getting any type of infection is that the immune system, which normally fights off these virus, does not work as well. We really do not know what level of control makes our immune system work less well but the literature says consistently over 200mg/dl or A1c approaching 9%. Your control is excellent.

      Of course age makes a difference as well but all in all..good control will help you!

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    Great and timely info – – Thanks Doctor E!

    • Steven Edelman

      Gary..good to hear from you..Stay well and see you at the gym once it opens again.

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    Thanks, Dr. E. Your calm clear manner is just what we all need to hear!

    • Steven Edelman

      Bernice…appreciate your post…need tostay calm. I was not faking it as well..we will get through this.

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    Thank you Dr. Edelman! My DM2 is well controlled, but it still makes me nervous. Listening to your expertise is great. Be safe in San Diego!

    • Steven Edelman

      Lizette..try not to worry too much. Your diabetes is under good control so you are in good shape.Just need to do all the normal preventative measures we are hearing about all day long!

  8. As always, Steve, informative and practical. Great Job!

    • Steven Edelman

      JOe..really hope you are well and great to hear from you. Stay in touch my friend.

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    I think the question is not if those with diabetes have a higher risk acquiring COVID-19, but whether they have a higher risk of complications once infected. Unfortunately, the data there seems to point to ‘yes’.

    • Steven Edelman

      Chris..thanks for checking in. If you are healthy and do not have other underlying medical conditions and your control is good, your chances of getting the virus and recovering are no higher than anyone else in the community. Stay well and good luck.

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      Thank you for bringing this up. As mother and wife of Type 1’s. The recovery is always the hardest. Even with good control while healthy.

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    Thanks for that timely info!
    Is the evening mini-conference still on for Wed, Mar 18 ?

    Pete, T1D

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      Hi Pete, No, we’ve cancelled the Spotlight event for tonight. Will hopefully be able to reschedule for another time but right now we are taking everything week by week, and we’ll continue to post updates on our website and on social media.

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    This was really helpful! I don’t take meds, but I have only one kidney, and that’s been of concern to me. Appreciate the information.

    • Steven Edelman

      Lynda..the human body only needs 1/2 of one kidney to be perfectly healthy. I assume your control is good since you are not on meds..good luck!

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    Thank you for not throwing us away like a lot of politicians and newscasters do. Just because we have Type 1 doesn’t mean we are disposable. You are always amazing Dr. E.

    • Steven Edelman

      Kara..you are very welcome! Many newscasters are irresponsible! This virus situation is more then just a huge headline to get viewers..we all need to come together and send out calming messages.

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    Very good discussion. Thank you . However is there a problem taking Tylenol with a G6 CGM?

    • There’s no problem taking Tylenol with the G6, but people with an older CGM have to avoid Tylenol because it will artificially raise their numbers. Or they can take the Tylenol and for 4- 5 hours they shouldn’t relay on the Dexcom numbers and will need to do finger sticks for that time period.

  14. Thank you, even though we might know if these things. It’s always reassuring to get from you Dr.Edelman and everyone from TCOYD.
    Stay healthy everyone.

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    Thanks for putting this out. This is very helpful and I shall share your advice with people who have asked these questions.

    • Steven Edelman

      Soumitra…thanks for the note and spreading the word!

  16. Thank you,even thoughwe might know these things. It’s always reassuring to get information from you Dr. Edelman and the TCOYD family.

    Stay healthy everyone.

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    Thank you Steve!

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    Thanks Dr Edelman. Seems to be so much conflicting info out there. Please advise best place to look for info pertaining to Type 1. Thanks and keep safe !

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    You made me feel so much better and less scared!!!

    • Steven Edelman

      Kate..all of us at TCOYD really appreciate your note and glad we can make you feel better in these times

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    Thank you. My son is a type1 and as a firefighter and paramedic is on base testing quarantined people. I worry about him every day. But he takes good care of his numbers.

    • Steven Edelman

      Mac..we all worry about our kids. If his control is good, then it boils down to the regular protection strategies. He sounds healthy enough to do well even if he gets the virus. Please thank him for his service

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    Thank you for the presentation. My doctor said the same thing about ibuprofen.

    • Steven Edelman

      Randolph…great minds think alike! stay healthy

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    Excellent! Thank you for clearing up the basic concerns we all have.

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    thank you for all your great advise and making the picture clearer for us.
    I am not so much of a worry wart after listening to your educational information. I am a type 2 A1c is a 5.8 but I also have very bad asthma and a chronic cough with my brongitis otherwise I was to my lung Dr. and just got the results of my blood work and I am more at ease, and especially listening to your little movie.
    you take care

    Patti Smith a registration booth volunteer

    • Steven Edelman

      Patti…Thanks for your note. For anyone with lung issues it would be very very important to avoid this virus since it causes shortness of breath. Really try to physically isolate yourself and use your phone and computer to socialize!

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    This was very helpful. I’ve been asking myself this question and why – am I at higher risk and why. Please keep doing these videos. They are very much appreciated!

    • Steven Edelman

      Lora..It is amzing how once it gets on the news everyone says that all PWD are at higher risk and that is not true!

  25. Thank you so much , Dr. Edelman! Your calm, soothing voice, demeanor, and reassurance has helped me calm my fears!

  26. Thank you so much for the great information. I really was very worried. The information was very informative. It eased my mind.
    Thank you

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    Thank you Dr. Edelman. We have heard so much conflicting noise over the last week. It gives you a sense of not having any control. But with the information you have provided we can have a positive outlook. This is a time to focus at looking our health. The smallest changes can make the biggest impact. After having Type1 for 32 years this is the healthiest I have ever been. Thank you for what You and your team have done for Me and all of my Type 1 Brothers and Sisters out there.

    • Steven Edelman

      Scott..thanks for your note and words of wisdom. So glad you are in good shape!

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    Hi-do you have a transcript for the post please? I can’t get sound while watching your video. Thank you for posting this video!

    • Hi Patricia,
      Thank you for the suggestion, and we will work on uploading a transcript. Will let you know when it’s online!

    • Hi Patricia, the transcript is online now- thank you again for your comment! Take good care!

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    My wife has been so stressed hearing that those with diabetes are extra vulnerable to the corona virus.

    She is has been type 2 for a dozen years and is fanatical about exercise and eating right. I’ve been more concerned about the stress than the virus!

    We’re all taking this new threat seriously and are grateful that you have helped give perspective!

    Thank you, Health and Happiness to All..


    • Steven Edelman

      John..we all haave our different stress levels so give your wife a hug when she is not on a tredmill!! Good luck

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    Hi Steve, thanks for this and all your education programs that have helped me and everybody else keep our A1-Cs under control. Honest advice is so important and rare now. We all love you and your team. Terry Bibbens.

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    You’re the BEST, Dr. Edelman! Simple, factual great advice for those of us who have diabetes. And, for our Type 3s.

    • Steven Edelman

      Thank you sir! Stay well..have to always educate our type 3s as well.

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    Thank you for being so current on the information for those of us who have Diabetes. It brought the reality of the situation to my door!

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    Thanks Dr Edelman for the useful information!

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    Thank you for clarifying & reaching out to all of us.

  35. Thank you for this information – it’s good to know that there is hope for people with diabetes to recover if we contract Covid-19.

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    Thanks for this info. Can’t wait to share with my adult kids who have been hovering over me because of the warnings. Will still practice extreme caution since I am over 60 but I agree with you.

    Also thanks for all of the great work done by TCOYD. I have learned so much from the two conferences I have attended.

    • Steven Edelman

      James..us old guys need to stick together. Stay well and we will get through this.

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    Thank you Dr. Edelman.
    I was waiting for your words of wisdom as a type 1 Diabetic and a Doctor. Stay safe and lets hope this thing is gone before our August Retreat.
    Taking control of my Diabetes and helping others.

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    Thanks, Dr. Edelman – I was a bit concerned as a Type 1 diabetic who is elderly and so I assumed that I am immuno-compromised. But since my A1C is 7.2 and I eat very healthy, you calmed my fears.

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    Dr. Edelman, thanks so much for your post. I also wanted to say thank you for your conference in Charlotte. I had just been diagnosed the week before with macular edema after 55 years of diabetes. I was really scared, but you were so honest about your own experience and subsequent excellent vision that I came away hopeful and encouraged (after I shed some tears of gratitude). Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you Karen! 🙂

    • Steven Edelman

      Karen..macula edema luckily is a treatable condition. The “shots in the eye” are not too bad and they work. Just stay in close contact with your eye doctor. Good luck and tears are good sometimes.

  40. Thank you! We are sharing with all of our followers on Sugar Medical’s social platforms to spread your message.

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    Thank you Dr Steve, but and can you explain why the CMS director said the folks over 65 should Telaheath your next scheduled appointment to avoid visiting the Dr office. How does a doctor check my blood pressure,take blood sample for A1C,etc. Via a computer. It doesn’t sound like logical advise.

    • Steven Edelman

      David..at UCSD and the VA we are all going to video tele visits right now to prevent the virus from spreading. Believe it or not most of a diabetes visit can be done this way. Sending your glucose values ahead of time will be important. BP checks should be done at home with your own cuff since the clinic ones are typically higher than normal. Yes..you are right is that it does not replace a normal visit but for now ..not a bad substitute.Stay well

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    Thank you Dr. Edelman. As a new T1D and not have experienced any flu infection condition, I have been very concerned with what to expect and wondered how I would ride out the storm if infected. Just as in your book “Take Control of Your Diabetes” you addressed the COVID-19 concern and provided me a sense of support in an understandable and actionable plan. It makes sense, just like every medical condition, when BGs are maintained in a normal range T1D risk is minimal. All the more reason to stay diligent and “Control my Diabetes”. You really made a difference for me, at the TCOYD conference, in your book and now with this video, I feel that I can keep control when the world struggles to regain it. You are AWESOME!!

    • Steven Edelman

      Patricia..thanks for your very kind words. You should not worry about having T1D and do the normal precautions. Thanks again and stay well.

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    Thank your for your wisdom. Staying safe with type 1 here in Ireland x

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    Thank you, Dr E. As a diabetic healthcare provider with mild asthma working continuously at Kaiser,with limited supply of PPE I’m genuinely scared. Please keep reiterating your message of staying calm.

    • Steven Edelman

      Will keep sending that message and thanks for helping patients. Stay well

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    I start to feel better as soon as I hear the intro music for TheEdelman Report! Nice and reassuring advice I’m having my spouse go get more Zero sugar Gatorade for electrlyte balance, as well as regular Gatorade for carbs. And Tylenol. But I normally use aspirin. Is that ok? Thanks for your calm, reassuring demeanor. I’m a little worried but I’ve got great control. Just 70 with 58 years of T1d… ❤️🐥

    • Absolutely, aspirin is a great way to keep a temperature down and it helps with aches and pains and has no negative affects on the kidney. You just have to be a little careful of how much you’re taking per day, because it can irritate your stomach. I personally take an 81 mg tablet per day, but you can take higher doses if you have a bad headache or want to keep a fever down.

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    Thank you Dr.E it made me feel better. Type 1 and I keep my blood sugar on target. We will all get thru this.

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    Thanks, Dr E!
    Great, informative, clear and concise presentation!
    Very supportive and comforting in these anxiety provoking times!
    Thanks again.

  48. Steven Edelman

    Wickliffe..thanks for the message and stay well and calm!

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    Thank you, Dr. Edelman! I just attended the TCOYD conference for the first time, less than a month ago. I’m glad I did. The information you shared here on the web site helps me understand better my risk as a diabetic re: COVID-19. It’s a scary time for everyone, and that we could have convened on Feb. 29 with no related cases (I think) is a blessing. Thanks, again.

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    Thanks Steve– great video, and good to see you looking chipper. (But don’t take Tylenol if you have a Dexcom CGM.) Monte

  52. Thank you for providing context to the line between corona virus complications and diabetes. Interestingly, when the diabetes diagnoses was originally relayed to me by my doctor, my Aic was almost 12. My doctor advised that I was not long for the world with that A1c level and provided information on all the complications, etc. that could be expected. For eight years, my A1c has been around 5.6 and it is possible that I am healthier with diabetes than would have been without it.

    Your comments about the link between the corona virus and diabetes were welcome as I and other diabetes suffers have head constantly about diabetics doing poorly with the corona virus. You provided context.

    Remember, even while our movements are restricted during the pandemic, it is still possible to continue an intelligent dietary regime and to continue walking ten thousand steps a day as well as monitoring weight.

    Thank you again for providing context to the link between the corona virus and diabetes.

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      You’re right Britt. Definitely still important to continue to care for ourselves and our condition at this time. Thank you for sharing your experience, and way to go on the A1c!

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    Thank-you so much. My son is a T1D and is a college wrestler with very controlled sugar. This is very scary and your advice has made me feel better.

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    HI Sir,

    Thanks for your suggestions

    Last time i checked ,My A1C Level was 8,I am taking GLIPICIDE 10mg (morning & Night) regularly

    doing exercise(in Ellipitical Machine) daily 30mins. I don’t have any other associated diseases.

    I have 33 years and since 2017 i have diabetics.Am i safe to fight against COVID -19 as per te the current level of A1C reading


    • Hello and thanks for your question. Sounds like you are in pretty good shape. It would be good to get your A1c down to 7.5%. I would just follow the usual precautions.

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    Hi there!! My daughter is 20 has type two not really under control but she wants to go to dinner with her friends who have been going out everywhere and no masks

    • I agree we all should be wearing masks when we’re out. If she socially distances from them then she will probably be safe, but if concerned she may want to consider delaying the visit. I know it is tough as we all want to see our friends.

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    I asked my doctor that very question . If cobtrolled with low A1C, he said it didn’t matter. You make sense, he didn’t. On the other hand you’re likely to be banned for not promoting pary line – fear & panic.

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