Having symptoms? Call your doctor ASAP.
While there’s still a lot to learn about COVID-19, early statistics show that people with diabetes have a higher risk of serious COVID-19 complications. For this reason, it’s important to know the COVID-19 symptoms for people with diabetes, so you can take action at the first sign of illness.
The Common Symptoms of COVID-19
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Shortness of breath
Other possible symptoms that many patients have experienced include:
- New loss of smell or taste
- Sore throat
- Muscle or body pains
Additionally, people with diabetes should be on the lookout for “an unusual spike in blood glucose levels that can’t be otherwise explained,” says says Minisha Sood, MD, endocrinologist in New York City. This could signal that you’re fighting an infection. (Here are other possible causes of high blood sugar.)
What to Do When Symptoms Appear
“If a person is noticing symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important to take all their usual medications, to check their temperature, to self-quarantine, and get in touch with a healthcare provider right away,” says Dr. Sood.
For the safety of you and others, most doctors recommend calling your provider before going to the hospital. When you call, you should know your glucose reading, your ketone reading, your symptoms, and when your symptoms started.
Signs of an Emergency
People with diabetes have a higher risk of serious COVID-19 complications, so it’s important to know the signs of an emergency. You may be able to manage mild symptoms at home, but these symptoms require emergency medical attention:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Inability to arouse or awaken
- Bluish lips or face
These are symptoms of serious complications of COVID-19, which can be life-threatening.
The best thing you can do is be cautious. Wash your hands frequently, avoid crowded areas, and practice social distancing. Learn more COVID-19 prevention tips for at-risk groups here.
Dr. Sood is a board-certified endocrinologist in private practice in New York City and an assistant professor at Hofstra School of Medicine.
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It's important to know the symptoms of COVID-19
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if you have diabetes
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because early medical attention can be life-saving.
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The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever,
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dry cough, shortness of breath.
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Other symptoms may include body aches,
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new loss of taste or smell,
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nausea, and diarrhea.
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If a person is noticing symptoms of COVID-19,
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it's important to take all their usual medications,
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to check their temperature,
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and get in touch with a healthcare provider right away.
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In terms of possible early symptoms
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in patients with diabetes,
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with respect to COVID infection,
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my recommendation would be
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to watch for an unusual spike
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in blood glucose levels that can't be otherwise explained.
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Before calling your doctor, it's important to note,
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what is your blood glucose level,
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what is your body temperature,
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what exactly are your symptoms,
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when did they begin,
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and if applicable,
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whether or not ketone testing has been performed
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and the results of that testing.
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Some of the complications of COVID-19
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include pneumonia, respiratory failure,
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heart issues or heart failure,
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and also septic shock.
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Some emergency warning signs
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of the more severe complications of COVID-19
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decrease in urine output,
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deep coughing, chest pain,
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swelling in the body,
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and profound, progressive diarrhea.
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If you think you're experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
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or a progression towards more severe complications
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it's important to contact your healthcare provider
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because early treatment can be life-saving.
- How COVID-19 impacts people with diabetes. Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association, 2020. (Accessed on July 23, 2020)
- People with certain medical conditions. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020. (Accessed on July 23, 2020)
- Symptoms of coronavirus. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020. (Accessed on July 23, 2020)