COVID-19 at Risk? Diabetes
April 10, 2020

COVID-19 at Risk? Diabetes

What does COVID-19 mean if you have Diabetes.

We turn our attention in this series of articles to groups who may be considered ‘at risk’ because of the medicines they take at a time of a national pandemic.

The most important thing that those of us living with diabetes can do right now is to follow government advice by:

  • Staying at Home
  • Only leave your home for basic necessities, like food and medicine
  • Exercise outdoors only once a day if it is safe to do so, observing social distancing, and avoiding travel and forms of exercise which may put you or others at risk
  • Only going to and from work if this cannot be done from home (if you are a key worker for example)
  • And attending to the medical need or care for a vulnerable person


If in addition you are self-isolating or following shielding advice, then continue to follow these rules.

For those with diabetes additional steps may be necessary if you become unwell with coronavirus symptoms, no matter how mild.

  • It may be necessary to check your blood sugar levels more regularly
  • Try to be more self-aware of signs of hyperglycaemia, including passing more urine, increased thirst, tiredness or headaches. If you think you may be having a hyper episode, you should contact your GP practice straight away.
  • Remember to stay hydrated, drink plenty of unsweetened tea. Water is best.


For those with specific types of diabetes, or those taking certain types of diabetes there is specific advice here, from https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/coronavirus

  • “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.


If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency, dial 999. “

For more information, including what to do about your existing hospital and GP appointments at this time, your annual review or eye and foot screenings, visit www.diabetes.org.uk and https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus


Talking Medicines are providing this content for information purposes only, please consult your healthcare professional for any specific advice.



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