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Diabetes and the Coronavirus

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As the global pandemic continues to affect the UK we wanted to help direct people to useful and accurate information on what to do when living with diabetes or supporting staff with the condition.

For the latest government advice on the COVID-19 Situation please click here and also for a useful checklist for preparing your own business, please click here for a simple checklist and self-assessment form.

If you are living with diabetes, Diabetes UK are posting regular updates and guidance on what to do, https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/coronavirus.

If you think you have contracted the virus, DO NOT go to your local pharmacy, GP surgery or Emergency Department or Minor Injuries Unit. Instead, you should visit the dedicated NHS 111 Coronavirus service at https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19

The coronaviruses can cause more severe symptoms and complications in people with diabetes, as well as in older people, and those with other long term conditions such as cancer or chronic lung disease. 

If you have diabetes and you have symptoms such as a cough, high temperature and feeling short of breath, you need to continue taking your medication and call the NHS 111 phone service. For those who routinely monitor their blood glucose, on the advice of their clinical team, they should continue to do this more often.

If you have diabetes and have been travelling abroad, and you think you may have been exposed to Coronavirus, follow the most up-to-date advice on what to do which can be found on the NHS or government websites. 

If you have diabetes and you become unwell for any reason, it’s important that you follow ‘sick day rules’.

Sick day rules

  • Contact your GP, Practice Nurse or Diabetes team, who will help you if you have any queries or if you are unsure about what to do.
  • Follow the advice of your GP, Practice Nurse or Diabetes team regarding your medication if you feel unwell.
  • If you routinely check your blood sugar at home you’ll probably need to do it more often. This will depend on your normal medications and how you use insulin.
  • If you don’t test your blood sugar levels at home, be aware of the signs of a hyper (hyperglycaemia); which include passing more urine than normal, especially at night; being very thirsty; headaches; tiredness and lethargy. If you have hyper symptoms contact your GP.
  • Stay hydrated – have plenty of unsweetened drinks and eat little and often.
  • 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). 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.

Attending routine appointments

People with diabetes should continue to attend their routine appointments as normal – unless they hear otherwise from their local GP practice, hospital or diabetes team.

For more generic information on the virus the NHS dedicated website is https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

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