Living with diabetes during the coronavirus outbreak

How to look after yourself and your family during the coronavirus outbreak

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Coronavirus can affect everyone, and people with diabetes have an increased risk of catching it. If you have diabetes, you may also experience more severe symptoms than someone without diabetes, so it’s important that you follow current government guidance on how to look after yourself and others.

What are the symptoms

The most common symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A new and persistent cough
  • A high temperature (if you feel hot to touch on your chest or back)
  • A loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

If you have either of these symptoms, do not visit your GP, pharmacy or hospital, but use the online 111 coronavirus service to find out what to next: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/

If you have any of these symptoms, then you must all self-isolate for 7 days. Also, anyone in your household must self-isolate for 14 days. This means that you must not leave your home for any reason, and you cannot have visitors to your home. If you need food or medicine for your diabetes or other illnesses, then order them by phone or online, or ask someone to drop them off for you.

Extremely vulnerable people are being shielded

Some people are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus because of an underlying health condition. They are being shielded, which is a practice used to protect extremely vulnerable people from coming into contact with coronavirus. Those who have been identified as being extremely vulnerable have been contacted by a local care team. Support for food and medicine is available for these people. More information on those being shielded can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable.

Stay at home

If you are not self-isolating, you may leave the house for the following limited purposes:

  • shopping for essentials, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • exercise, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone, with members of your household, or to meet one person from another household
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home

If you do need to go out for one the reasons above, you should follow the social distancing measures that are in place, which means keeping at least 2 metres apart from other people. You must also wash your hands, using soap for at least 20 seconds, as soon as you get home.

Stay healthy

It’s important for everyone, particularly those with diabetes, to eat healthily, and to take daily exercise – assuming you are symptom-free – during the coronavirus lockdown period. Planning your meals each day can help you identify what you’ll be eating, can help reduce the desire to snack, and can also help when planning your food shop (and reduce waste, since you will only shop for the meals that you need). Diabetes UK has some great recipe ideas for inspiration: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food

Your medication

It’s important to keep taking your diabetes medication during the lockdown period. You can visit pharmacies to collect prescriptions, assuming you are symptom-free and if you abide by the social distancing measures. Where you can, plan ahead, and try and order your next prescription around 2 weeks before it is due. You can usually do this over the ‘phone, or electronically (using your GP surgery’s normal procedure). There is no need to stockpile (doing so may result in other patients not having the medicines that they need), so don’t ask for extra medicine. If you follow your normal repeat prescription ordering, there will be enough medicine for everyone.

If you were due to have your annual medications review, this may be postponed, but call your GP surgery or Diabetes Specialist Nurse if you are unsure.

Additional help

If you would like to read more about general advice on the coronavirus, then go to: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

There is also information on the coronavirus and diabetes here: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/coronavirus