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A woman measuring her blood glucose level

What if I already have diabetes, and then I get COVID?

Having diabetes does not mean you are more likely to catch COVID, but it means you could become seriously ill if you get COVID. This is the same for all types of diabetes (Type I, Type II and gestational – during pregnancy).

There is a helpline for people with diabetes run by Diabetes UK:

If you get COVID, it may affect your blood sugar levels because your body is fighting off the virus. The body releases sugar to help give you energy. When you have diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin to control all of the sugar in your body, making your sugar levels higher.

In most cases, the main symptoms for COVID are mild flu type symptoms. These can include a high temperature, dry cough, shortness of breath, feeling tired, muscle aches and a loss of taste and smell.

The way the virus affects people can change from person to person.

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How do I control my diabetes?

If you have any problems or worries about your Diabetes, it is important to contact your diabetes specialist nurse or General Practitioner (GP).

If you already check your blood sugar levels, you will need to check them more often.

If your blood sugar levels are high, you should speak to your diabetes team for advice.

If your General Practitioner (GP) has advised you to check your blood sugar levels, make sure you have enough monitoring equipment to carry out the checks.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day so that you do not get thirsty (aim for 6-8 glasses per day).

Look out for ‘The 4 T’s’

  • Toilet – going to the toilet to urinate more often
  • Thirsty – feeling thirsty all the time
  • Tired – feeling tired all the time
  • Thinner – losing weight without trying to

These are all signs that your blood sugar levels could be high. If you notice these signs, you should:

  • Speak to your diabetes team/nurse
  • Get advice from your GP
  • Call 111 out of hours
  • Call 999 if you feel very unwell

If you do not get help, the problems could get worse and lead to a life-threatening emergency.

Learn more about:

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Should I take my medication as usual?

It is important to carry on taking the medication that has been prescribed to you.

If you stop taking your medication, it can affect your diabetes and can make you feel worse.

If you have any concerns or questions about your medication, please speak to your local pharmacist or your General Practitioner (GP).

Your GP or pharmacist can organise a delivery for you. If you are on insulin, you should make sure that you have a one month supply.

If you go to hospital, remember to bring an up to date list of your medication.

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What about routine hospital appointments?

Hospitals, clinics and GP surgeries have delayed or cancelled appointments due to COVID.

If your appointment is cancelled or delayed, you should get a new appointment when it is safe.

Your hospital or clinic should contact you about any changes to your appointments.

Some of the appointments may be face-to-face, on the phone or by video call.

Contact your GP surgery or ring the number on your appointment letter if:

  • You do not know what is going on with your appointment
  • Your condition has got worse

If you need help to make a new appointment, you could ask someone you trust to support you.

It is important to remember that you should not attend face-to-face appointments if you have any symptoms of COVID or have vomited, or had diarrhoea in the last 48 hours.

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