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COVID-19 and type 2 diabetes: your questions answered

Experts share what you should know about COVID-19 and type 2 diabetes.

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Managing a chronic illness is an already exhausting task. Add a global pandemic on top of that, and you might be feeling some anxious feelings. 

There are lots of questions surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19), here are some basic answers from experts about what people with type 2 diabetes should know. 

How does coronavirus spread?

The virus is thought to spread through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing. Coronavirus mainly transmitted from person-to-person and between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs.

How to protect yourself or reduce your coronavirus risk when you have type 2 diabetes

Avoiding exposure is the best method of prevention according to the CDC.

  • Stay away from large groups or people who appear to be ill. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Do not wipe off the excess.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes to be sure you’re not passing it along to anyone else. 
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, computer mouses, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water before disinfection.

Should people with Type 2 diabetes worry about coronavirus?

People with type 2 diabetes are immunocompromised and should be aware of their increased risk for complications of coronavirus. 

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are not more likely to get COVID-19 but are more likely to experience complications from illness.

“Anyone with type 2 diabetes is at a higher risk for complications of COVID-19,” says family physician and obesity specialist Danielle DonDiego, DO. 

Dr. Mahmood Kazemi, MD, Abbott’s medical director, says a viral infection may be more challenging to treat in a person with uncontrolled diabetes. 

“One reason is because people living with uncontrolled diabetes may have compromised immune function, which can make it harder to fight viruses and may lead to longer recovery times,” says Dr. Kazemi.

What supplies should you have on hand?

Experts say to have as much medication on hand as possible. A three months supply is the safest bet — although it may be out of reach for some patients.

Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community, and you need to stay home for a prolonged period.

If you aren’t able to secure a three months supply due to insurance, cost, or prescription limits, talk with your doctor about the best way to manage diabetes during this time. 

Consider using mail-order for medications if you want to avoid contact with others.

Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies to treat fever and other symptoms. 

According to the CDC, most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.

Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you are prepared to stay at home. If you are immunocompromised, you may need to send a friend or family member out to help with errands. 

You can also look to services like Butcher Box or local grocery delivery to have your items ordered. Since there’s an increase of people using these systems, expect wait times, and plan for your groceries. 

Will coronavirus impact my blood glucose?

You may notice your blood sugars running high due to the stress and anxiety of quarantining, job insecurity, or information overload from coronavirus. Stress can have an impact on your blood sugar

“Eat healthy, this is a paramount time to control dietary intake and keep sugars as controlled as possible,” Dr. DonDiego says.

“The more controlled sugars are, the less risk of complications if the infection is contracted,” she says.

What can I do if I feel anxious?

People with diabetes often experience burnout from dealing with the condition. 

Additionally, the rapidly changing news can be a lot to handle. 

Try simple changes like, reducing the time you watch and read the news, use apps like Calm and Headspace for guided meditations that may help you relax. 

What do I do about work?

With a situation evolving as quickly as this one has, some offices have pivoted to working from home. 

Come up with a plan, and ask your supervisor if your working remotely is feasible.

If you feel sick, stay home, and keep track of your symptoms.

What do you do if you have type 2 diabetes and show symptoms of COVID-19?

If you or a loved one are developing flu-like symptoms, reach out to your doctor directly. 

Do not show up at the doctor’s office or emergency room without calling first to protect others. 

You can find more specific tips from the International Diabetes Federation or The American Diabetes Association.

For more resources on COVID-19 and diabetes, visit these sources:

American Diabetes Association

Beyond Type 1

Beyond Type 2

Diabetes Daily



International Diabetes Federation

About Mila

Hi! I'm Mila.

I’m earning my Master’s degree in Applied nutrition.

I’m a journalist and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach living with  LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, a slow-progressing form of autoimmune Type 1 diabetes) I love food, travel, and my kitchen, and teaching you about diabetes self-management.

I’m here to help you live your best life possible diabetes by showing you how to create simple, blood-sugar friendly and delicious meals and tips on diabetes self-care.

Be sure to download my FREE Diabetes Community App Glucose Guide, or reach out for FREE 1:1 diabetes health and habit coaching.

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One Response

  1. Thank you for this article! I have Type 2 Diabetes and I am really scared about this pandemic. But I am hopeful that it will be over soon God bless you and take care!

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