The novel coronavirus has surprising complications along with its tendency to infect the lungs. One such increasing concern associated with the virus is diabetes, which is characterized by high blood sugar levels.

Your pancreas produces insulin, a hormone responsible for managing your blood sugar levels. When your body cannot produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or the body cells are resistant to it (type 2 diabetes), the glucose level in your blood increases and causes various health problems.

The data suggests that up to 14.4% of COVID-19 patients also developed diabetes. But why does this happen?. Let’s review what the latest data suggests.

Does COVID Cause Diabetes?

Some studies suggest an association between COVID-19  and diabetes, along with blood clots, pneumonia, and other complications caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus. In other words, scientists believe COVID and Diabetes are correlated, however it is not clear if COVID causes Diabetes directly.

Two studies published in the journal Cell Metabolism prove that the virus can impair pancreatic insulin-producing cells. Whys does this matter?. Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the beta cells of the pancreas do not produce sufficient insulin to allow your body to optimally metabolize food after a meal. This insulin insufficiency results in high blood sugar levels. 

Experts also believe that SARS-CoV-2 can act on human beta cells. The virus can even multiply in the beta cells of the pancreas, indicating the correlation between the COVID-19 infection and diabetes.

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Recent studies also show that the coronavirus infection can change the functioning of the pancreatic cells, causing them to produce more glucagon, a hormone that promotes glucose production.  All these studies hint at the relationship between COVID-19 infection and diabetes.

But there is one more explanation. Did you know almost 90% of people with prediabetes are not aware of their condition?. Individuals with prediabetes have a high risk of developing diabetes if lifestyle modifications are not carried out.

Experts propose a theory that steroids used for treating COVID-19 infection, such as dexamethasone, may increase the risk of developing diabetes, especially those who are prediabetic. 

Are People With Diabetes At Higher Risk if they are Sick with COVID?

Experts believe that older people and those with health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are at an increased risk of catching a severe COVID-19 infection. People with diabetes are harder to treat for viral infection due to fluctuations in blood sugar levels and diabetic complications.

The reason being:

  • A compromised immune system makes it difficult to fight the virus, resulting in a longer recovery period.
  • High blood glucose levels provide a favorable environment for the virus to multiply.

The morbidity and mortality risk is twice as high in people with type 2 diabetes and three times higher for those with type 1 diabetes than the general population. 

Besides, having heart disease along with diabetes further increases the risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19. This is because having two conditions make it harder for your body to recover and fight the virus. A viral infection can also trigger inflammation or swelling due to high blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of inflammatory and other complications.

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However, it is possible to reduce the risk of severe infection by keeping your blood sugar levels under control. 

Are These Risks Different for People with Type 2 and Type 1 diabetes?

The Centres of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuously monitoring the effect of COVID-19 infection on different groups of people.

According to their current report, anyone with an existing condition, including type 2 diabetes, are at a higher risk of severe infection. The same may apply to those with gestational or type 1 diabetes.

However, as the disease is comparatively new, there is not enough evidence to understand how a medical disorder increases the severity of the COVID-19 infection. 

For now, it is best to take your medicines accurately and follow all the instructions from your doctor. This may protect you from catching a severe COVID-19 infection.

How To prepare If You become Infected with COVID and Have Diabetes? 

Everyone should plan if they or their loved ones with diabetes become ill. The following tips may come in handy:

  • Keep all healthcare contact details handy
  • Note down the name and dosage of all your medicines
  • Get two-week medication in case you won’t be able to go to the pharmacy
  • Also ensure adequate supply of supplies such as pen, pump, and monitor supplies
  • Have an adequate stock of ketone strips
  • Keep a source of simple sugar handy in case your blood sugar levels drop below the normal levels

Does the COVID-19 vaccine Have Side effects in people with diabetes?

Here, it is essential to understand that individuals who have taken the jab are 90% less likely to get COVID-19 infection.

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Talking about the side effects, no adverse effects are seen in most cases. There was no hospitalization or death reported in people with diabetes who took the COVID-19 vaccine.

Besides, doctors recommended individuals with diabetes to get vaccinated before the healthy population as they are at a higher risk of severe infection. 

Precautions to Prevent Diabetes After COVID-19

Here are some factors that may protect you against diabetes:

  • Lose about 15 pounds. According to the data from various studies on people with prediabetes, weight loss can significantly slow the progression or even prevent type 2 diabetes. The initial 15 pounds are most vital.
  • If you have lost weight during the infection, you should aim to regain muscles and not all the pounds you lost. The ideal BMI is below 25.
  • Consider a regular exercise regimen. This will prevent the inflammation caused by excess fat and boost insulin sensitivity. All this will help in slowing down the progression to diabetes. The exercise routine can be as simple as walking. 
  • Make healthy food choices. Even small changes such as switching to sugar-free can make a significant difference.
  • Visit your physician regularly and follow all the instructions. Also, take all your medicines on time and monitor your blood sugar levels regularly.

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