Diabetes & Covid-19 Risks & Precautions to Take

The world is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a highly infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and it spreads through close contact with someone who has the virus. Most of the people who test positive for the virus have mild symptoms, which are similar to common flu – like sore throat, weakness, tiredness, cough, fever, or similar, and in most cases, people don’t require hospitalisation, and can safely recover from home.

However, people diagnosed with diabetes and test positive for COVID-19 may be at a higher risk of developing serious complications like difficulty in breathing or pneumonia. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is plenty of scientific evidence suggesting that people with type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing severe complications due to COVID-19.

One of the critical reasons diabetes patients are at a higher risk of serious illness due to COVID-19, is that this chronic illness affects how the immune system functions, and weakens it, making it hard for the body to fight the infection-causing viruses. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the novel coronavirus tends to thrive in an environment where the blood glucose level is high, a common condition among most diabetes patients.

High blood sugar levels and inflammation make it much slower for people with diabetes to recover from illnesses such as COVID-19 infection. The CDC research suggests that people diagnosed with diabetes and developing COVID-19 symptoms may be at a higher risk of meeting with fatal consequences due to COVID-19 related illness.

While the risk of COVID-19 complications is higher among diabetes patients, they can reduce the risk by keeping diabetes under control.

Diabetes and COVID-19 – Risks

Viral infections such as the COVID-19 infection can lead to several complications among people diagnosed with diabetes, including

  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs when the body loses its ability to produce enough insulin to deal with the rising blood sugar levels, triggered by the viral infection. The body begins to break down the fat for energy, resulting in the ketones building up in the blood. Ketones make the blood more acidic, and make the patient more vulnerable to serious health problems.

DKA can cause a wide range of symptoms, including heavy breathing, foul breath, extreme thirst, and nausea. Anyone who may have DKA must get immediate medical attention.

  • Dehydration

When a person with diabetes develops COVID-19 symptoms like fever, they may lose their body fluids faster than usual. This can cause dehydration, and the patient may need intravenous fluids.

  • High blood sugar

All viral infections, including COVID-19 infections, cause a stress response in the body and increase glucose production. Consequently, the person may need to take an additional insulin shot.

Diabetes and COVID-19 – Precautions to Take

 Because of the ongoing pandemic and the various lockdown measures introduced by the government to keep the infection under check, it may be challenging to get the usual diabetes medicines. So, the doctors worldwide have corroborated the following precautionary measures to keep diabetes under control:

  • Continue taking your diabetes medicine, including insulin as prescribed by the doctor
  • Monitor the blood glucose levels regularly
  • Get at least a 30-day supply of diabetes medications, including insulin, so that you do not face any difficulties getting the medicine during the lockdown
  • Consult your doctor regarding the concerns you may have about diabetes and COVID-19, and what steps you must take to deal with the infection while undergoing diabetes treatment.
  • If you face any difficulty, visit your doctor immediately and get medical attention.

Timely medical intervention can help diabetics deal with the virus, without severe complications. The key to this is safeguarding your health, by being mindful of your diet and lifestyle. Follow the SMS (Social Distancing + Mask + Sanitisation) routine, and DON’T LOWER YOUR GUARD.