STUDY: How COVID-19 Is Affecting People with Diabetes

The COVID-19 pandemic is greatly affecting all of us, on an unprecedented and global scale. We recently utilized our Thrivable Insights Panel, comprised of almost 20,000 people living with or caring for someone with diabetes, to evaluate how the diabetes community is affected.

The infographic below provides a brief overview of data collected in the initial survey to gauge people’s perceptions, concerns, measures they are taking to prepare and protect themselves, and more. Stay tuned for a detailed data report, and more to come from our continued research efforts on COVID-19.

Want to make a difference? Join the Thrivable Insights research panel.

Also, please join our COVID-19-specific research efforts here.

Made with Visme Infographic Maker


Coronavirus & Diabetes: Your Questions Answered

The recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which started in China and has been spreading across the globe, has taken the media by storm. Many have raised concerns about the inevitability of a pandemic, with many news articles addressing the issue and related concerns in recent months. Here, we provide a brief overview of COVID-19 pathogenesis and answer some common questions about how to protect yourself and what steps to take if you believe you are experiencing symptoms of the infection as a person with diabetes.

Fast Facts

  • The virus is thought to be mainly spread from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing, and may also live on various surfaces, that if touched, could result in infection
  • Those infected may have no symptoms at all or may exhibit varying degrees of fever, coughing, and shortness of breath
  • The best ways to protect yourself and help prevent the spread of the virus include common-sense measures, like minimizing the risk of potential exposure (e.g., limiting travel, especially to affected areas; not touching your face), and maintaining cleanliness (e.g., washing your hands)

Your Questions Answered

We recently took to social media to gain insight into common concerns and questions about Coronavirus as it relates specifically to people living with diabetes. Here, we answer some of the common questions we received:

Why are people with diabetes more vulnerable to infections and complications of infections? 

It has been shown that people with diabetes are at a higher risk for infections and related complications, and, in particular, for various bacterial infections. Although the reasons for this are not completely elucidated yet and are likely multifactorial, research has shown that high blood glucose levels can directly and negatively impact the immune system and that  

“…good control of blood sugar in diabetic patients is a desirable goal in the prevention of certain infections and to ensure maintenance of normal host defense mechanisms that determine resistance and response to infection.”

As it relates to the COVID-19 outbreak, it follows that maintaining optimal blood glucose control is an important preventative strategy for avoiding serious related complications, such as a secondary bacterial infection (i.e., pneumonia) and is likely an important determinant in the patient prognosis for anyone who becomes infected.

How might blood sugar be affected if I get the virus? 

In general, many types of illness can cause an increase in blood glucose levels (even in people without diabetes) that may necessitate medication adjustments in order to maintain control. This is often true for other viral infections, like influenza. While it is difficult to predict individual responses, as blood glucose levels are governed by a combination of many factors, it is likely that infected individuals may experience higher than expected blood sugar levels.

What can I do to protect myself? 

In addition to the importance of maintaining optimal glycemic control as a person with diabetes (see above), the best ways to protect yourself include the same common-sense measures that are advocated by the CDC.

Elizabeth Gomez, MSN, FNP-BC explains:

“Precautions to prevent Coronavirus are hand hygiene and keeping distance from people who are sick or who have recently traveled to known areas identified by the CDC as having outbreaks (i.e., China, North Korea, Japan, Italy).”

What should I do if I have symptoms?

Much like for the general population, it is recommended that people with diabetes who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 infection take steps to get the appropriate testing and medical care, while also helping to contain spread of the disease. People with diabetes are advised to call their healthcare provider for advice promptly. It is not recommended to go to the emergency room to seek hospitalization, unless there is another emergency situation suspected, such as ketoacidosis (DKA).

Elizabeth Gomez, MSN, FNP-BC says:

“It is important they get evaluated if the history is suggestive of Corona in order to track the disease and report to the Department of Public Health. They should be evaluated by a provider if they have a positive history of travel to the affected areas and they have symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath or other respiratory symptoms.

Treatment is similar to supportive care but if people have comorbidities (like diabetes) they should follow up closely with the treating provider to prevent complications. The mortality rate is low, so it is expected people will recover well.”

Can the disease be transmitted via injections or fingerpricks? 

The CDC explains that COVID-19 appears to predominantly spread via respiratory droplets, but also may live on various hard surfaces. However, the virus is new, and the spread of the virus is not fully understood yet. Some concerns have been raised about other potential routes of transmission (e.g., blood).

In any case, it is good practice, in general, to never share insulin pens, syringes, or lancing devices and to always change your own syringe or pen needle when injecting insulin, as well as to change your lancet each time you check your blood sugar level.


In general, patients with diabetes are currently advised to follow the same guidelines as the general population when it comes to protecting themselves from the Coronavirus outbreak. Taking care to avoid exposure, as well as common-sense prevention, like washing your hands and not touching your face as much as possible, are key. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider for additional guidance on your specific situation in order to stay safe.


Research Trends with Dr. Maria: Cholesterol Benefits & More

Dr. Maria Muccioli holds degrees in Biochemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology and has over 10 years of research experience in the immunology field. She is currently a professor of biology at Stratford University and a science writer at Diabetes Daily. Dr. Maria has been living well with type 1 diabetes since 2008 and is passionate about diabetes research and outreach.

In this recurring article series, Dr. Maria will present some snapshots of recent diabetes research, and especially interesting studies than may fly under the mainstream media radar. Check out our first-ever installment of “Research Trends with Dr. Maria”!


Allergen in Diabetes Tech Adhesives

Diabetes technologies, like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, are steadily gaining popularity, especially among patients with type 1 diabetes. While the technological advances have shown considerable benefit in improving patient outcomes and quality of life, one common issue is the unfavorable reactions to adhesives. A recent study published in Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics identified that a common culprit of these allergic reactions to adhesives may be a chemical called colophonium, a commonly-used adhesive, which was shown to be an allergen in over 40% of patients in the small study. Read more about the study and the use of this adhesive in medical products here.

Bariatric Surgery May Worsen Retinopathy

Retinopathy (eye disease) is a common complication of diabetes, and can be serious, leading to severe visual impairment and even blindness, especially when left untreated. A recent study published in Acta Ophthalmologica has uncovered a potential link between patients who undergo weight loss surgery and worsening retinopathy. Researchers adjusted for confounding variables, including glycemic control (A1c) and found that those who underwent bariatric surgery experienced worse retinopathy outcomes. Although the sample size was small, the data showed a significant worsening of eye disease in those who underwent surgery as compared to controls. Learn more about the study and outcomes here.

Super Healthy Probiotic Fermented Food Sources

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Benefits of Probiotics for Type 2 Diabetes

The relevance of the gut microbiome in various health conditions, including diabetes, is gaining more and more attention. A recently published meta-analysis in The Journal of Translational Medicine discusses what we currently know about the effects of probiotic supplementation in patients with type 2 diabetes. Excitingly, probiotics can improve insulin resistance and even lower A1c! Learn more about exactly what the clinical trials have shown here.

Herbal Therapies Gaining Attention

With most modern medicines derived from plant compounds, it is not surprising that more research is being geared toward examining the effects of various herbal remedies on blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity. A recent review published in The World Journal of Current Medical and Pharmaceutical Research summarizes the effects of some medicinal plants with potential anti-diabetic properties. Learn more about what is known about commons herbs and how they may be beneficial for glycemic control here.

Low HDL Cholesterol Linked to Beta Cell Decline

Research has previously suggested that higher HDL cholesterol levels may be protective of beta-cell function. A longitudinal study recently published in Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews indicated that patients with lower levels of HDL cholesterol were more likely to experience beta cell deterioration and develop type 2 diabetes than those with higher HDL cholesterol levels. Learn more about this study here.


Please share your thoughts with us and stay tuned for more recent research updates!


A Type 2 Success Story: How Tribally-Built Solutions Improve Health Outcomes

Not until the 1940s did Native Americans and Alaskan natives begin suffering from type 2 diabetes en masse, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). So what happened to Indian Country during the 1940s and beyond? The Effect of Commodity Foods on Native Diet A host of cultural and nutritional issues were underway: damming […]

Should People With Type 2 Diabetes Consider this Cheaper Insulin?

With analog insulin costing patients a great deal, should those with type 2 diabetes consider older but cheaper human insulins like R and NPH? A recent study looked at how blood sugar management was affected by this switch in older adults with type 2 diabetes. Analog insulins include brands such as Humalog, Novolog, and Apidra, […]

Study: Low-Carb Diet Boosts Metabolism In Overweight Adults

A recent study found that replacing carbs with fat boosted the metabolisms of overweight adults. You’ve probably heard that “a calorie is a calorie,” but it appears that calories from different sources, may not lead to equal outcomes. In this case, calories from fat led to more calories being burned per day when compared to […]

DKA at Diagnosis May Affect Brain Development in Children

A recent study found that young children who experience one moderate or severe case of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) may be at risk for changes in their longitudinal cognitive and brain development. DKA is a life-threatening condition that is frequently observed in young children who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The symptoms of DKA […]