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How To Manage Chronic Conditions When You’re Stuck At Home

Dr. Pragnya Rao

With limited access to healthcare, managing your chronic illness should be your priority.

The current situation is challenging and it becomes even more tricky when you or someone you’re living with or caring for, including your parents, grandparents, or neighbours, suffer from any chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, hypertension, cancer, etc. Not only are people with such health conditions at higher risk of developing severe coronavirus infection but they also need time-to-time care especially during this time when it is risky to step out and visit a hospital for a regular check-up. 

In this article, we will be discussing how one can manage chronic conditions during the lockdown.

Diabetes

It is a chronic condition characterized by high blood glucose levels.

How to manage your diabetes during a lockdown?
  • Stock up oral hypoglycemic drugs for at least a month. Store your insulin vials in the refrigerator. 
  • Make sure you have your home glucose monitor & test strips to check your sugar levels when needed.
  • Chart them so you can keep track of any highs and lows in your sugar levels.

Recommended range:
  • Fasting sugars normal range: 70-110mg/dL
  • Postprandial (2 hours after a meal): 70-140mg/dL
  • Hypoglycemia: <70mg/dL
How to take care when you’re a diabetic?
  • Eat your meals on time. Create a meal pattern of eating 3 times a day regularly. Avoid eating in between.
  • Avoid junk food and opt for items with a low glycemic index such as legumes, carrots and non-starchy vegetables like bean sprouts and salad greens.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have doubts regarding your sugar control or dosages of your medicines. 
Symptoms that may indicate an emergency 
  • Watch out for symptoms of hypoglycemia such as giddiness, confusion, excessive sweating, and fatigue.
  • What you can do is immediately consume 3-4 glucose tablets or candies or ½ glass of fruit juice or glucose/ sugar water. Rush to a hospital if there is no relief.

Hypertension

It is a health condition characterized by high BP recordings of more than 140-90mmHg.

Recommended range:
  • Hypertension: More than 140/90mmHg
How to manage hypertension during a lockdown?
  • Anti-hypertensive medicines can be stocked up for a month so you can avoid stepping out. 
  • Chart your BP at least once a week or as directed by your physician. 
How to take care when you’re hypertensive?
  • Make sure your salt intake is minimum(Avoid direct salt on the table)
  • Check your BP if you have symptoms like a headache or fatigue
  • Speak to your doctor online if you notice any abnormal fluctuations, or experiencing headaches.

Symptoms that may indicate an emergency

If you have a high BP recording and associated symptoms of severe headache, chest pain, shortness of breath then you will need to rush to a hospital immediately. 

Heart diseases

It is a general term used to describe health conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels.

How to manage heart disease during a lockdown?
  • Taking medicines regularly is of primal importance, especially if you’ve undergone recent bypass surgery. 
  • Stock up medicines in advance & remind yourself using timers or apps to make sure you are taking them on time.
  • Most heart ailments are associated with hypertension, so regular checking of BP is important.
How to take care when you have heart disease?
  • You are what you eat. Low salt intake, avoiding dairy, fatty products & maintaining good hydration is vital for heart health.
  • Engage in minimum physical activity like yoga & meditation to reduce stress.
  • If you notice any symptoms not related to heart disease, you should reach out to your doctor or consult online to avoid hospital visits at the moment. 
  • Do not self-medicate at any cost.

Symptoms that may indicate an emergency

Symptoms like chest pain, sweating, breathing difficulty, fatigue can be indicative of a heart attack and there must be no delay in rushing to the hospital.

Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory condition that involves inflammation and narrowing of airways due to excess mucus production.

How to manage asthma during a lockdown?
  • Make sure that you have your inhalers & medicines stocked up. 
  • Use an incentive spirometer, also called a lung-exerciser, to help you practise deep breathing exercises to build lung capacity.

How to take care when you have asthma?
  • Avoid any triggers that can exaggerate your asthma- allergens, aerosols, cigarette smoking, etc. 
  • Practise respiratory exercises regularly to keep your airways clean and improve your lung capacity. 
Symptoms that may indicate an emergency

Increased shortness of breath, wheezing, difficulty in speaking full sentences, confusion, chest tightness, and bluish lips might be indicative of severe asthma attacks that will need to be treated at a hospital.

Cancer

Cancer is a disease that can cause abnormal cell growth, which is uncontrolled, leading to damage to body tissues and spread from one body part to another.

How to manage your cancer during a lockdown?
  • Organize, store & maintain your cancer treatment medicines. 
  • If you have a home care nurse, this will get easier in case of injectables, but necessary precautions have to be taken. 
  • If you or somebody in your family knows how to administer IV injections, make sure that IV sets, saline, etc. are sufficient.
  • Keep names and phone numbers of doctors who are in the cancer care team and are looking after you handy.
How to take care if you’re a cancer patient?
  • It is important that you receive help as needed, especially in the meal preparations and moving around inside your house.
  • Pain and anxiety while going through cancer treatment is expected. Speak with your family for emotional & social support. If you are unable to handle the stress, speak to mental health professionals online.

Symptoms that may indicate an emergency
  • If you are facing fatigue, fever, severe pain, swelling at the injection site, uncomfortable side-effects of medicines, you will need to reach out to your doctor and get to a hospital if required. 
  • Additionally, you must also reach out to a hospital if you have trouble administering medications yourself. 

The takeaway

If you are suffering from any chronic conditions, you must follow general guidelines  if you need to step out of the house for grocery or medicines, are:

  • Wear a mask before stepping out of the house
  • Always carry a hand sanitizer
  • When outside, maintain at least 2m distance from others irrespective of whether they are sick or not
  • Avoid coming in contact with high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, staircase handles, etc
  • Do not touch your face or mask until you are back home
  • Remove the mask from the back of your head and dispose it in a closed bin and wash your hands after

Only if you can take care of yourself, you can help someone else out. Speak to a doctor online on MFine if you have any doubts or want more guidance in managing your chronic conditions. India, Khayal Rakhna.

Note: If you have any health concerns for yourself or your family, you can now speak to top doctors online on our platform. You can also take the free COVID-19 self-assessment to know your risk of contracting coronavirus infection. In case you’re experiencing symptoms like sore throat, cough, fever, or breathing difficulty, get your symptoms assessed by top doctors on your phone on the MFine app.

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