During monsoons, India – being in the southern hemisphere – witnesses a spike in the number of respiratory diseases and influenza. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to adapt and evolve, this phenomenon may lead to older people, and adults with pre-existing medical conditions – especially diabetes. People with diabetes are more susceptible to developing infections; this is mainly because high blood sugar levels can weaken the their immune system defenses and have an increased chance of contracting respiratory diseases as compared to the general population.
This also throws up the importance of vaccination to prevent seasonal and respiratory infections as well as coronavirus.
Anyone can get influenza/flu. However, there are special groups of individuals who are at a higher risk of acquiring the disease, which includes children between 6 months to 5 years of age, pregnant women, elderly – 65 years of age and above, healthcare workers and, individuals with chronic medical conditions such as Diabetes, Asthma, Cancer, Immunosuppression etc.
Diet To Prevent Influenza: What To Eat And Avoid
Pre-diabetics as well as people with existing health conditions should also look at including electrolyte intake via energy drinks in their diet as they are at an increased risk of acid-base disorders and electrolyte disturbances. The increased risk is due to the disease state of diabetes itself and the associated disruptions in glucose homeostasis, the drugs used to treat diabetes, and the organ damage associated with diabetes. Electrolyte-infused water can be a great, low-calorie way to replenish electrolytes and keep you well hydrated.
During this season, diabetics should be careful about what they eat and drink. Make sure you eat only home-cooked food. This way, you can be sure of the hygiene, quality, and nutritional value of your food. Eat foods that boost immunity. Avoid consuming raw foods and make sure to steam them before eating and wash all fruits and veggies before eating. Avoid deep fried snacks or street side food as they are host to multitudes of diseases such as typhoid, cholera, hepatitis and can be dangerous for diabetic patients. Include whole grains such as whole wheat, oatmeal, whole oats, gram flour, brown rice etc in your diet, as they are effective in dealing with diabetes and blood pressure, especially if they belong to the elderly generation. You can also boil water with spices like ajwain, fennel seeds, mint, ginger or cardamom, and then consume this water throughout the day. This helps improve digestion and helps fight stomach infections.
However, in many cases of influenza, the respiratory illness is mild due to adoption of early preventive measures, but in case of covid-19, almost 15% of cases are severe with critical illness. With the ongoing lockdown and fear of going to the hospital, managing health during the pandemic has been quite a task.
While getting the Covid-19 vaccine is critical, one must also get an influenza vaccine as primary protection against H1N1 and other circulating types. Other safety measures must be followed by staying at home and maintaining social distancing, stepping out only when necessary and wearing a mask while stepping out.
Similarly, diabetics can protect themselves by staying in regular contact with their physicians through telemedicine, keeping a track on proper recommended diet and blood sugar, staying hydrated and most importantly adhering to all prescribed medications.
About Author: Dr K.C Potdar is a General Physicians in Maharashtra and is well-known for treatment of diabetes for patients all over the state. As a senior General Physician, he also specialised in viral inoculation, immunisation, vaccination and dengue fever treatment.
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