COVID-19 can spike risk of new-onset of diabetes – Know some prevention tips to stay healthy  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
New Delhi: Diabetes has been known to be an important risk factor for the development of severe pneumonia and a septic course due to various virus infections. It has been no different with COVID-19 infection. Right since the early stages of the pandemic, it has been seen most people with COVID-19 have comorbidities or pre-existing illnesses, the most prevalent of which are diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Patients with diabetes, in particular, have been seen to be at higher risk of worse clinical outcomes of COVID-19.
Diabetes increases risk of COVID-19
The reason for diabetic patients to have a higher risk of COVID is due to inherent defective immunity prevalent in them, which exposes them to catch the infection easily and to be susceptible to its complications. In addition, patients with diabetes have been shown to have an increased presence of a certain type of receptors on their cells, through which the COVID virus enters the human body, thus facilitating its entry. These receptors have a protective effect against inflammation and COVID infection renders these receptors useless, thus making the cells vulnerable to the inflammatory and damaging effect of the virus. Thus, the virus thrives in an environment of elevated blood glucose.
Risk of new-onset of diabetes
There is a bidirectional relationship between Covid-19 and diabetes. Studies have shown that diabetes might not only be a risk factor for a severe form of COVID-19 disease but also that infection could induce new-onset diabetes. This is due to potential cell damage in the pancreas caused by the virus leading to insulin deficiency. Also, diabetics with severe COVID infection have been shown to have a tremendous increase in their insulin requirement and an increased propensity for serious complications like diabetic ketoacidosis.
For the above reasons, it is very vital for diabetic persons to avoid getting COVID infection. People with diabetes who have not yet been infected with the COVID virus should intensify their control as a means of primary prevention of COVID-19 disease.
Preventive measures to stay safe from diabetes, COVID-19
Diabetics need to ensure that their blood glucose levels are well-controlled as COVID infection has been shown to play havoc with their sugar levels. When people with diabetes do not manage their diabetes well and experience fluctuating blood sugars, they are generally at risk for a number of diabetes-related complications, notably affecting the kidney, heart and brain, which is the reason for increased mortality seen when diabetic people gat the COVID infection. Therefore, it is very important for diabetic persons to implement the following measures:
- Strictly adhere to the general recommendations for avoiding the virus — social or physical distancing, wearing mask and sanitization or washing of hands.
- Intensify their glucose control by strict adherence to lifestyle changes like:
- regular physical activity
- healthy nutrition which is an essential component of diabetes management. Having a balanced diet and sticking to foods with a low glycaemic index would help to keep their blood glucose levels stable and thus, in turn, enhance their immune system
- regulation of body weight
- should get in touch with their diabetologists to make sure that they are on the right medications and for titration of the doses of the medicines if required.
Disclaimer: The article has been authored by DrTilak Suvarna, senior interventional cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai. Views expressed are personal.