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Diabetes and coronavirus

Diabetes and coronavirus
On this page

People with diabetes, regardless of which type, are no more likely to catch coronavirus than the rest of the population. As explained in this article from Diabetes UK, most people who do become infected with the virus experience only mild symptoms that mean they don’t need to go into hospital. For people who are ill enough to be hospitalised, the risk of serious complications is higher amongst those with diabetes – around 3.5 times higher for people with type 1, and 2 times higher for people with type 2. It also appears that the risk of complications is higher for older people. Very few people living with diabetes who are under 40 have died from coronavirus.

Should I keep taking my diabetes medication?

Yes, unless you have been told otherwise by your doctor. If you take SGLT2i tablets for example, you may have to stop taking this medication if your doctor advises you to, or if you become unwell with COVID-19. Please read the guidance on this page to find out more.

Tips for managing your diabetes

In addition to the guidance above, you should continue to manage your diabetes as normal. Good diabetes management includes:

  • Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Continuing with your normal medication and treatment (unless otherwise directed by your doctor)

Living a healthy lifestyle is important for everybody who has diabetes. If you’d like to know more, read our guide or Diabetes UK has some excellent resources around exercise and diet.

Monitoring your blood sugar levels

If checking your blood sugar levels is part of your normal treatment, you should keep doing this (click here to learn more about testing your blood glucose at home).

In addition, you’ll want to keep track of your symptoms, as these can be a good indication of your blood sugar levels and general health.

Hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia

Low blood sugar levels can be caused by injecting too much insulin or drinking alcohol without eating. High blood sugar levels can be caused by not taking your medication or eating too many carbohydrates.

Low blood sugar is known as diabetic hypoglycaemia. A “hypo” can induce the following symptoms:

  • Feeling shaky and tired
  • Feeling moody
  • Headaches
  • Hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty concentrating

High blood sugar is known as diabetic hyperglycaemia. A “hyper” can induce the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Going to the toilet regularly, including during the night
  • Generally feeling unwell

If you’re experiencing the symptoms of hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia, you should contact your GP by emailing or phoning their surgery. It may be that you need to have your medication adjusted.

For tips on how to manage hypo or hyper symptoms, read our guide.

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References

www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk-from-coronavirus/whos-at-higher-risk-from-coronavirus
www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/coronavirus#home
www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing#clinically-vulnerable-people
www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/managing-your-diabetes/testing