Getting Sick

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 and Diabetes

This information is based on current knowledge of COVID-19 and will be updated as additional scientific evidence is released.

We know you have questions. We have answers.

COVID-19 and Diabetes

Q: Are people with diabetes more likely to get COVID-19?

A: There is not enough data to show whether people with diabetes are more likely to get COVID-19 than the general population. The problem people with diabetes face is they’re more likely to have worse complications if they get it, not greater chance of getting the virus. Also, the more health conditions someone has (for example, diabetes plus heart disease), adds to their risk of getting those serious complications from COVID-19. Older people are also at higher risk of complications if they get the virus.

While the death toll is rising as the virus spreads, we expect the death rate—the number of people who die from the virus—to go down as we get better at detecting and treating it.

Q: Do people with diabetes have a higher chance of serious complications from COVID-19?

A: People with diabetes are more likely to have serious complications from COVID-19. In general, people with diabetes are more likely to have more severe symptoms and complications when infected with any virus.

Your risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 is likely to be lower if your diabetes is well-managed. Having heart disease or other complications in addition to diabetes could worsen the chance of getting seriously ill from COVID-19, like other viral infections, because more than one condition makes it harder for your body to fight the infection.

Viral infections can also increase inflammation, or internal swelling, in people with diabetes. This can also be caused by above-target blood glucose (blood sugar) levels, and that inflammation could contribute to more severe complications.

Q: Are the risks different for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

A: The CDC is continuing to update their website as new information about COVID-19 becomes available. Currently, they are reporting that people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes, are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Based on what the CDC is reporting at this time, people with type 1 or gestational diabetes might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Because COVID-19 is a new disease, we don’t know as much as we’d like to about how underlying medical conditions increase the risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

It’s important to remember that people with either type of diabetes can vary in their age, complications they’ve developed and how well they have been able to manage their diabetes. People who already have diabetes-related health problems are likely to have worse outcomes if they contract COVID-19 than people with diabetes who are otherwise healthy, whichever type of diabetes they have.

Q: Do I need to worry about DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis)?

A: When sick with a viral infection, people with diabetes do face an increased risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), commonly experienced by people with type 1 diabetes.

DKA can make it challenging to manage your fluid intake and electrolyte levels—which is important in managing sepsis. Sepsis and septic shock are some of the more serious complications that some people with COVID-19 have experienced.

Learn the signs of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and be sure to talk with your diabetes care team about when to check for ketones and when to contact your doctor if you have them. And if you are sick, know what to do.

Q: Does COVID-19 cause diabetes?

A: Several studies have suggested that adults face an increased risk of diabetes diagnosis after contracting COVID-19. Youth younger than 18 years old with COVID-19 were shown to be at higher risk of developing diabetes more than 30 days after their COVID-19 infection.

Risks and Warning Signs

Q: Is COVID-19 different from the seasonal flu?

A: COVID-19 is proving to be a more serious illness than seasonal flu in everyone, including people with diabetes. All of the standard precautions to avoid infection that have been widely reported are even more important when dealing with this virus.

We encourage people with diabetes to follow the guidance of the CDC to be sure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself and others. As always, people with diabetes should get a flu shot this year, although it’s important to understand the flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19.

Q: What are the symptoms and warning signs I should be watching out for?

A: People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Q: What should I do if I think I'm developing symptoms of COVID-19?

A: If you fell like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.

When you call:

  • Have your glucose reading available
  • Have your ketone reading available
  • Keep track of your fluid consumption (you can use a 1-liter water bottle) and report
  • Be clear on your symptoms (for example: are you nauseated? Just a stuffy nose?)
  • Ask your questions on how to manage your diabetes

Q: What are the emergency warning signs—and what should I do if I’m experiencing them?

A: If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face


Q: What should I do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in my home?

A: For people with underlying health conditions, including diabetes, healthy family members in the household should take steps as if they were a significant risk to them. For example, they should be sure to:

  • Cover their nose and mouth with a mask any time they have to leave the home.
  • Wash their hands frequently, especially before feeding or caring for the vulnerable person.
  • Stay at least 6 feet from people who don’t live in their household.

Learn more about protecting yourself and others here.

Q: What should I do if someone in my household tests positive for COVID-19?

A: If a member of your household is sick, be sure to give them their own room, if possible, and keep the door closed. Have only one family member care for them, and consider providing additional protections or more intensive care for household members over 65 years old or with underlying health conditions. Learn more about how to keep your home safe.

If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, take extra measures to put distance between yourself and other people to further reduce your risk of being exposed to this new virus. Stay home as much as possible.