Diabetes and Coronavirus
If you have coronavirus symptoms, however mild:
- Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call us for advice via a telephone appointment
- If you live alone, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started
- If you live with someone who has a continuous cough or a high temperature, you should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you then develop symptoms, you should stay at home for 7 days from the day your symptoms start, even if it means you’re at home for longer than 14 days
- Follow the advice of our doctors or your diabetes team regarding your medication
- If you routinely check your blood sugar at home you’ll probably need to do it more often
- If you don’t check your blood sugar levels at home, be aware of the signs of a hyper (hyperglycaemia), which include passing more urine than normal (especially at night), being very thirsty, headaches, tiredness and lethargy. You should contact us if you have hyper symptoms
- Stay hydrated – have plenty of unsweetened drinks and eat little and often
If you have type 1 diabetes, check your blood sugar at least every four hours, including during the night, and check your ketones. If your blood sugar level is high (generally 15mmol/l or more, or 13mmol/l if you use an insulin pump, but your team may have given you different targets) or if ketones are present, contact your diabetes team.
If you take a certain type of diabetes tablet called SGLT2i and become unwell, you should stop taking these. You need to check your ketones and your blood sugars (if you’ve been told to do this and have the kit), and speak to your healthcare team. The brand names of these tablets are Forxiga, Invokana and Jardiance. Taking these tablets when you’re not very well could increase your risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), so you need to know the symptoms to look out for.
Keep eating or drinking – if you can’t keep food down, try snacks or drinks with carbohydrates in to give you energy. Try to sip sugary drinks (such as fruit juice or non-diet cola or lemonade) or suck on glucose tablets or sweets like jelly beans. Letting fizzy drinks go flat may help keep them down. If you’re vomiting, or not able to keep fluids down, get medical help as soon as possible.
How Coronavirus can affect people with diabetes
Coronaviruses can cause more severe symptoms and complications in people with diabetes, as well as in older people and those with other long-term conditions, such as cancer or chronic lung disease.
Everyone with diabetes, including those with type 1, type 2 and gestational, is at risk of developing a severe illness if they get Coronavirus, but the way it affects you can vary from person to person.
When you have diabetes, being ill can make your blood sugar go all over the place. Your body tries to fight the illness by releasing stored glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream to give you energy. But your body can’t produce insulin to cope with this, so your blood sugars rise.
Your body is working overtime to fight the illness, making it harder to manage your diabetes. This means you’re more at risk of having serious blood sugar highs and lows, as well as longer-term problems with your eyes, feet and other areas of your body.
For most people, Coronavirus is a mild illness, but some people develop a more serious form of the virus and could die.
It is important that people with diabetes follow the sick day rules should they become ill from any illness.
Advice from Dr Kaushal and Diabetes UK