As time passes, we are learning more about the long and short term side effects of COVID-19.
Epidemiological data has shown that diabetes could result after an acute illness such as influenza.
When the immune system is compromised due to illness, this could impact how the body responds such as insulin production and blood sugar levels; and further beg the question, could diabetes become a side effect of the COVID-19 virus?
What is COVID-19?
Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered strain of the corona virus.
Detected as recently as October 2019, it has spread globally in months while putting economies into a recession, causing many to fall ill and even costing lives.
The disease can be easily transmitted from inhaling droplets in the air generated from an infected person sneezing, coughing, exhaling; or by touching a surface that has been contaminated and then touching your nose, eyes or mouth with unwashed hands.
As time passes we continue to learn more about how the virus affects us, how to prevent infection, why vaccination matters and newly created variants.
Symptoms of COVID-19
Some people are considered asymptomatic. So they may not show any symptoms yet can still act as carriers and pass the virus onto others.
For those infected with COVID-19, symptoms typically begin gradually and worsen. These symptoms include:
- Dry Cough
- Difficulty Breathing
- Aches & Pains
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
80% typically recover from the disease. However, some reports have shown that 1 in 6 experience severe symptoms that may require hospitalization due to difficulty breathing.
How Covid-19 Affects those with Diabetes
Despite your chances of catching COVID-19 being the same as anyone else, if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes you should be extra cautious as the risk of contracting the disease can have severe complications and even be fatal. This is especially true for those who are not properly managing their diabetes.
Studies have shown that 1 in 4 patients that have been admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 also had diabetes.
One of the reasons COVID-19 affects diabetics is due to the compromised immune system from high blood sugar making it harder to fight off the disease.
Those with diabetes who also suffer from existing complications such as heart and lung disease may also be at risk for more serious infections.
A study from Hubei, China examined cases of COVID-19 where 13% had type 2 diabetes. Patients with diabetes required more medical attention and had a significantly higher mortality rate of 7.8% compared to non-diabetic individuals at 2.8%. Additionally, it was discovered that individuals with better managed glycemic levels had a lower mortality rate. The findings provided clinical evidence between the correlation of better glycemic control in type 2 diabetics and their outcome due to COVID-19.
For those with diabetes who do contract COVID-19 are at a greater risk of suffering from complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This very serious complication is when high levels of ketone accumulate in the blood.
Since DKA can cause your body to lose electrolytes, this can cause patients to develop a danger response called sepsis. Doctors treat this by providing patients with fluid and electrolytes.
Tips to reduce your chances of getting COVID-19
- Stay at home as much as possible especially if you feel sick
- Maintain proper hygiene (wash your hands regularly and use sanitizer)
- Keep at least a distance of 6 meters from others
- Maintain blood sugar levels
- Wear a face mask or face shield when out in public
- Have a protocol ready in case you get sick
- Wash your hands after giving yourself an insulin shot
- Stock up on food especially healthy carbs (ie vegetable or noodle soups, whole-wheat crackers, unsweetened applesauce)
- Simple carbs such as fruit juice, hard candy, honey in case blood sugar drops
- Maximum number of refills available
- Extra ketone strips and glucagon
- Stay hydrated, especially if you feel ill
Under the United States Disabilities Act, Americans have the right to work from home or take sick days as needed.
Consult your doctor on:
- How often to check blood sugar levels and ketones
- What over-the-counter medication is recommended in case you get sick
- What to do in case you get sick
- How to adjust your insulin medication if you get sick
Some medication can affect blood sugar levels and blood sugar level readings.Ibuprofen and aspirin have been known to lower blood sugar levels and acetaminophen can cause falsely high readings. Inform your doctor if you have taken any over-the-counter medications.
If you feel you have any coronavirus like symptoms, contact your doctor and share information such as blood sugar level readings and any medication or supplements you are taking.
Could COVID-19 be causing diabetes?
One question that has been plaguing the medical community is whether the virus is causing an increase in diabetes.
Doctors are sharing findings globally that there is a strong link between a sudden onset of diabetes and those who contracted COVID-19 and were hospitalized due to the virus.
There have been cases where patients have recovered from COVID only to discover from blood tests that they had developed diabetes.
Some studies also suggest that up to 14% of COVID-19 patients may develop sudden onset diabetes.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, those who contract COVID are already at risk of developing severe outcomes and now they may also be at risk of developing diabetes.
Some theories suggest that some treatments such as Dexamethasone used on COVID patients could be triggering the onset of diabetes.
Other theories suggest that COVID-19 could be damaging cells in the pancreas that produce insulin or the virus may change the way cells metabolize glucose.
Similar findings were found 10 years ago with SARS patients. SARS is another type of coronavirus.
Doctors including endocrinology specialists and diabetes experts are sharing information around the world trying to figure out what s going on, how to best treat patients and understand whether diabetes is a side effect of coronavirus.
To learn more information on COVID-19 visit the following link below: