How children with Type 1 diabetes can stay safe amid Omicron surge
- Is your child suffering from Type 1 diabetes? Here's what you should do in light of rising cases of Covid-19.
As India registers a spurt in Covid-19 cases in the past few days and with the emergence of a new variant of concern Omicron, the vulnerable population that includes elderly and children are at grave risk of contracting the deadly infection. While young children and adolescents tend to develop milder symptoms compared to the adult population, those with chronic diseases and conditions might be at risk of hospitalization.
While experts remain divided over the consequences of reopening of schools, with rising cases of Covid-19 in India and a fear of fresh wave, the online education will continue to be primary medium of learning.
Type-1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), an autoimmune condition, is one of the most common paediatric endocrine illnesses that largely affects children and adolescents. India is estimated to have about 97,700 children with this condition. These children may face more severe complications during or after Covid. While vaccination drive for children between 15-18 years will kickstart soon, it is important for children with diabetes to take adequate steps to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
For children with Type 1 diabetes, experts advise that apart from blood sugar level, parents can keep an oximeter handy to monitor their oxygen levels twice a day.
"For diabetics, it is critical to monitor blood oxygen levels at least twice a day. If this reading is less than 95%, it may be an early sign of infection. To track blood sugar levels, a blood glucose monitoring device can be most convenient," says Dr Minal Vohra, Consultant Diabetologist, BeatO.
It is also important to take prescribed medications regularly to avoid surge in blood sugar levels.
"Failure to do so can cause blood sugar and blood pressure levels to spike, possibly causing serious complications, such as worsening of Covid symptoms, if affected," says the expert.
Boosting natural immunity of children through the right diet as well as timely immunization can make them less vulnerable to Covid. Timely meals and homecooked food can help protect too.
"Proper nutrition boosts disease protection. Diabetics must consume a low-carb, high-fat diet to control blood glucose and maintain energy. Also, protein intake needs to be low to moderate. Food should be consumed at periodic intervals as specified by the doctor while fasting during the other hours to keep glucose levels in check and better maintain diabetes," says Dr Vohra.
As the Covid cases rise, children with chronic diseases should be encouraged to develop healthy hygiene habits like handwashing and sanitization and stay masked while stepping outside. It is advised for them to stay at home and avoid mingling freely with a lot of children. The visit to the crowded places like malls etc should be avoided too.
"In case children show any of the typical symptoms, including cold, cough, fever and loss of taste, among others, isolate them immediately. Then seek medical assistance," advises the expert.