TYPE 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes a person’s blood sugar levels to become too high, increasing the risk of more serious health problems happening. Experts have now warned the current coronavirus outbreak can cause “more severe symptoms”.
Type 2 diabetes patients have become concerned over the current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). The UK’s first deaths from the virus were announced this week – an 83-year-old man and a woman in her 70s, both of whom had underlying health conditions.
“While the risk of getting Coronavirus in the UK remains low, if you have diabetes and you become unwell for any reason, it’s important that you follow sick day rules, and that you closely monitor your blood sugar.”
Dan Howarth, Diabetes UK’s Head of Care, reiterated the harm coronavirus can cause to people with diabetes.
He said: “Coronavirus or COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms and complications in people with diabetes.
“If you have diabetes and you have symptoms such as cough, high temperature and feeling short of breath you need to monitor your blood sugar closely and call the NHS 111 phone service.
“People with diabetes who don’t experience symptoms and have recently travelled to any of the affected areas need to follow information on the NHS and the gov.uk websites, which are updated regularly and are the most up-to-date source of information available.”
The diabetes charity also provides information on how to manage diabetes when a person is sick, which some people may find useful.
- Don’t panic – contact your diabetes team who will help you if you have any queries or if you are unsure about what to do.
- Keep taking your diabetes medications – even if you don’t feel like eating. But there are some medicines that you shouldn’t take as much of or stop taking altogether. Make sure you talk to your diabetes team as soon as you’re feeling ill so they can give you the right advice.
- If you check your blood sugar at home you’ll probably need to do it more often – at least every four hours, including during the night. If you don’t test your blood sugar levels at home, be aware of the signs of a hyper (hypergylcaemia).
- Stay hydrated – have plenty of unsweetened drinks, and eat little and often.
- If you have type 1 diabetes, 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). If ketones are present, contact your diabetes team.
- 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.
Symptoms of coronavirus
The main symptoms of coronavirus to look out for, according to the NHS, are:
- A cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advice you what to do.
You should use this service if:
- You think you might have coronavirus
- In the last 14 days you’ve been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus – see our coronavirus advice for travellers
- You’ve been in close contact with someone with coronavirus