How people with diabetes could become more ill if diagnosed with Covid-19
Published on 7 April 2021
What happens if I already have diabetes?
People with diabetes are at no more risk of catching Covid-19 than anyone else. But if you do then you could become more ill; this is why you are ‘classed’ as high risk. This is the same for all types of diabetes (type 1, type 2 and gestational). People with diabetes can be more vulnerable to becoming unwell.
If you do become ill, this may affect your blood sugars (mainly higher readings). This is due to the body trying to fight the virus. The body releases glucose (sugar) to help give you energy but cannot produce enough insulin to cope with this, resulting in higher glucose levels.
In most cases, the main symptoms for Covid-19 are mild flu-like symptoms. These can include a high temperature, dry cough, shortness of breath (trouble breathing), feeling tired, muscle aches, headaches and a loss of taste and smell. The way the virus affects people will vary from person to person.
Are there any special measures I should take?
To help stop the spread of Covid-19, it is important to follow government guidance, wash your hands frequently and follow the social distancing rules.
To help control your diabetes:
If you already monitor your blood glucose levels, you will need to check these more often. If you are noticing higher levels, speak to your diabetes team for further advice.
If you have been advised to check your blood glucose levels, make sure you have an extra supply of your glucose monitoring equipment.
Keep well hydrated by drinking regular fluid throughout the day (aim for 6-8 glasses per day).
Look out for symptoms ‘The 4Ts’ – toilet, thirsty, tired and thinner are symptoms of raised blood glucose levels. If you are experiencing these symptoms, speak to your diabetes team or get advice from you GP (or 111 out of hours). Left untreated, symptoms may get worse and lead to a life-threatening diabetic emergency, diabetic ketoacidosis or ‘DKA’, if you feel very unwell, call 999.
If you have any concerns or queries it is really important that you contact your diabetes specialist nurse or General Practitioner (G.P).
Hospitals have had to postpone many non-urgent appointments and planned procedures due to the coronavirus outbreak. These decisions have been in line with national guidance, and you will be offered another appointment when it is safe to do so.
Patients should be contacted by their local hospital teams to see how their appointment has been affected.
Some of the appointments may go ahead and will be offered either face to face (urgent), or via the telephone.
If you are unsure what has happened to your appointment, then please contact your local hospital or ring the number on the appointment letter.
However, it is important to remember that you should not attend if you have any symptoms of Covid-19, or have suffered with sickness or diarrhoea in the last 48 hours.
It is important that you continue taking medication that has been prescribed to you. Otherwise, this could affect your overall condition and possibly make you feel worse. If you have any concerns or queries about your medication, please speak to your local pharmacist or your GP. Your local surgery or pharmacist can organise a delivery for you.
If you are on insulin, make sure that you have a one-month supply.
If you do need to be admitted to hospital, please remember to bring an up-to-date list of your medication with you.
Read NHS information on Diabetes and your Covid-19 recovery
Read NHS information on People at higher risk from Covid-19
If you need medical help or have a query regarding the virus, the NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call 111 if you need to speak to someone. If there is a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate) for up to 14 days.
The NHS is currently offering the Covid-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus
The vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and hundreds of local vaccination centres run by GPs. An NHS statement said: “The coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus.”
The advice from NHS is “Wait to be contacted”.
The NHS will let you know when it is your turn to have the vaccine.
It is important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.
The NHS has released guidance to update people on the safety of the Covid-19 vaccinations being rolled-out across the UK.
Call to action - How you can support DRWF during this time
Sarah Tutton, Chief Executive of DRWF, said: “Research is the only way to find new treatments and a cure for diabetes. We have multi-year grant awards in place right now which we must do our utmost to honour and we must be able to react to ongoing applications that we receive for research work that could truly make a difference to the lives of people with diabetes.
“We exist on voluntary donations and fundraised income and like most charities, Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our ability to raise the funds we need. We expect the months ahead will be just as challenging, and sadly this may have an impact on our ability to fund the volume and value of research work that could fuel the next big breakthrough.
“Charities need us, as we need them, more than ever before. Our supporters enable us to keep our research funding on track meaning that the diabetes research community has funds available to find the cure that could transform the lives of millions. We can’t thank our supporters enough for their continued support during these challenging times.”
Read Lockdown guidance for staying home and safe for people living with diabetes during Covid-19 pandemic
DRWF operations during the Covid-19 health crisis
The DRWF team is working remotely. Covid-19 guidance, particularly where it aligns or impacts with diabetes guidance, is shared as quickly as possible through the DRWF website and social media channels with the aim of making it as easy to understand as possible and a reliable source of latest news.