If you have diabetes – regardless of what type you have – you are no more likely to catch coronavirus than anyone else. And the majority of people who do get coronavirus – whether they have diabetes or not – will have mild symptoms and don’t need to go into hospital.
However everyone with diabetes, including those with type 1, type 2, gestational and other types, is vulnerable to developing a severe illness if they do get coronavirus, but the way it affects you can vary from person to person.
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 enough or any 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, potentially leading to DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) or HHS (hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state).
For most people, coronavirus is a mild illness, but some people develop a more serious form of the virus and sadly could die.
How to reduce your risk
While the UK government has recently eased some lockdown restrictions in England, the advice for people with diabetes across the UK is still to stay at home as much as possible and to minimise contact with people outside your household. Only go out for: basic necessities, like food and medicine, exercise, any medical need or to care for a vulnerable person going to and from work, and only if you can’t work from home.
If you do need to go outside for any of these reasons, you should still follow strict social distancing measures. This means keeping 2 metres apart from other people and washing your hands as soon as you get home.
If you are already self-isolating or following the shielding guidance, then continue following those rules.
If you get coronavirus
If you do get coronavirus, it’s really important that you follow your sick day rules. This will help you to keep your blood sugars in range as much as possible, so you can stay well and fight the virus. We know it’s not that always that simple. Take a look at our new courses in Learning Zone to help you remember your sick day rules and manage your blood sugar levels, and our guide on staying home and managing diabetes.