1. What you need to know
Having Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) does NOT make you more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
Based on current scientific research there is no evidence that people with T1D are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19.
Anyone can contract COVID-19 and should follow precautions as advised by your local medical teams and government. This includes being up to date with vaccinations and wearing a mask when needed.
The virus could make it harder to manage blood glucose levels and therefore create a risk for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
In case you encounter the following symptoms, please contact your doctor:
- diarrhea for > 6 hours
- shortness of breath
- fever that won’t go away after a couple of day
- experiencing hypoglycaemia
2. What to do when I get unwell with COVID-19?
- Monitor your blood glucose more than usual. As often as every 4 hours.
- Be aware of any signs that DKA is occurring.
- If you have vomiting, contact your doctor, and go to hospital as soon as you can.
- Do not stop insulin!
- Stay hydrated.
Be careful with the medications you take to treat symptoms of COVID-19 as they may affect your blood glucose levels:
- Beyond insulin, many over the counter (OTC) medications also affect blood glucose levels.
- Be aware – Many cough syrups on the market contain sugar, which will increase your blood glucose levels. If you can, always select a sugar-free syrup or an oral pill.
- Medicines that help ease a blocked or stuffy nose also raise blood glucose levels.
- Be aware of the effects of medication such as;
- Aspirin (painkiller) in large doses can lower blood glucose levels.
- Ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory) should also be handled with care as it increases the hypoglycaemic effect of insulin.
Read more here about how to manage a sick day with T1D.
3. When should I go to the hospital?
If you feel very unwell because of COVID-19:
- With COVID-19, doctors urge you to seek help if you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or an inability to be conscious or have blue lips or face.
- Be vigilant about keeping your blood glucose levels in a normal range, as increased blood glucose levels correspond with poorer health outcomes for those who contract COVID-19.
- If you end up at the emergency room, it is vital that you mention that you have Type 1 Diabetes.
If you think you have Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA):
- If you are worried that you may be showing signs of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), do not wait and seek help immediately.
- Symptoms of DKA include; feeling very thirsty and frequent urination, being sick, tummy pain, fruity breath, fast breathing, feeling sleepy or confused and losing consciousness.
- If left untreated, DKA can lead to death.
HelloType1 content is based on published, internationally recognised guidelines and then reviewed by local experts to ensure it fits local context. The translation is based on simplified English language to ensure it conveys the safest and clearest possible message in regional languages. Basic insulin and blood glucose testing access is still an issue in the South-East Asia region and our chief aim is to address this. HelloType1 content is not intended to replace the advice of individual healthcare professionals but as a collaborative tool to help them improve the outcomes of disadvantaged people with Type 1 Diabetes in the region.