Diabetes & COVID-19

Last updated: March 27

Based on what we know so far about COVID-19, people with diabetes and other health concerns have increased risk of more severe illness after contracting the virus than the general population. Your physician can review your medical record to give you a greater understanding of your personal risk.

Here are answers to some common questions related to diabetes and COVID-19. Please note that these answers are subject to change as we receive more information about COVID-19. If you have additional questions not answered here, call your physician or the Northwestern Medicine COVID-19 hotline at 312.47.COVID (312.472.6843).

Frequently Asked Questions

People who have diabetes do not appear to be more likely to contract COVID-19. However, they are more likely to have serious complications from COVID-19.

A person who has well-managed diabetes is expected to have an outcome that is similar to the general population. If a person has fluctuating blood glucose levels or has had an elevated blood glucose level for a long time, they are at a higher risk for heart disease and other complications that weaken the ability to fight an infection like COVID-19.

A COVID-19 infection increases inflammation in the body, which is a normal response to conquer infection. If a person has poorly controlled diabetes, they could experience a weakened immune response and more severe complications from COVID-19. People with Type 1 diabetes are also at higher risk of diabetic ketoacidosis during COVID-19 infection because the virus can make it more difficult to stay hydrated and manage electrolyte levels.

It is always important for people with diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels. Keep at least a 2-week supply of your medications and contact your physician if you need refills.

People with diabetes should adhere to the recommendations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prioritizing physical distancing and hand hygiene. You should also exercise, eat well, reduce stress and get plenty of sleep.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, such as a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, call your physician for guidance.

If you have been exposed to someone who received a COVID-19 diagnosis, you should self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms of the virus. If you begin to experience symptoms, call your physician.