COVID-19 and type 1 diabetes

« Back to news & events
@Getty Images

COVID-19 and type 1 diabetes

Are people with type 1 diabetes more at risk of being infected with the corona virus?


First and foremost, there is no evidence that people with type 1 diabetes would be more sensitive to the virus that causes COVID-19. In addition, in children, the disease presents very mildly, often even without symptoms. If children are ill, but do not have a fever: just take care of them at home and wash hands! Observe hygiene and if in doubt contact your doctor. In adults there is more chance of a problematic course, especially in older people. You know the message that we also bring to the common flu: if you get a serious viral infection, there is a greater risk of glycemic disruption and the need for hospitalization and possibly intensive care. That is why we recommend that everyone get vaccinated with the common flu. Unfortunately, at this time there is NO VACCINE against the Coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

What can you do then?
First and foremost, follow government guidelines!

  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Keep enough distance from other people, at least 1.5 m: that is the distance that saliva or sneezing droplets can fly;
  • If you can work in isolation (eg at home), you should do so;
  • If you have to work because your company needs you, such as nursing or other caregivers, people in food stores or other businesses, take the hygiene measures to heart: wash hands, keep your distance and in some professions wear masks and glasses.

I also want to convey an important message: we are LUCKY to live in Belgium, where our healthcare is top notch, where our hospitals are very well equipped and where we have the capacity to deal with this wave of disease. WE CAN HANDLE THIS!

I want to end on an important message for the people who have diabetes:

In all this COVID madness, it's important that you keep taking good care of your diabetes! The disease is not standing still! Use the period that you are at home, for example, to study your glucose curves and make insulin dose adjustments if necessary, monitor your blood pressure, measure your weight, replace nice needles, etc ... Your diabetes teams are very busy to convert all consultations and contacts planned in the coming weeks to tele
consultations. We do not forget YOU! We also remain available for questions via the e-mail and telephony channels you are familiar with. Each center has made its own arrangements for material distribution and prescriptions, and here I refer you to your diabetes team. Don't forget to postpone your ophthalmologist checkups. Planning it in the summer or after the summer is a good idea. Do not forget to carry out your urine test at the next check-up.

Finally: in case of urgency, if you feel unwell (eg vomiting, glycemic disorder), foot problems, chest pain, etc ... Do NOT minimize these and contact your doctor and / or diabetes teams! Diabetes does NOT stand still in COVID-19 times.

I wish you all strength and good health. We're getting through here!
Dr. Chantal Mathieu and the entire diabetes team of UZLeuven