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Covid-19 - Impact on Diabetics

As the second wave of Covid-19 reaches its pinnacle, it is most likely to get worse. While it is believed to affect people of all age groups, those with major underlying health issues like diabetes, heart problems, asthma etc. are more likely to face severe complications. Although diabetes may not directly make you vulnerable to Covid-19, it does increase the risk of serious complications, such as difficulty in breathing or pneumonia.

Diabetes is characterised by a complex condition wherein the body’s sensitivity to insulin is slowly, but dangerously reduced. This, in turn, drastically reduces immunity, which makes a diabetic more susceptible to complications via viral infections, including the ongoing Covid-19.

People with diabetes are more likely to have serious complications from COVID-19. In general, people with diabetes are more likely to have more severe symptoms and complications when infected with any virus. 
Viral infections can also increase inflammation, or internal swelling, in people with diabetes. This can also be caused by above-target blood sugars, and that inflammation could contribute to more severe complications”
- American Diabetes Association

As diabetes evidently causes the immune system to get compromised, the affected person’s body has to fight much harder than normal to avoid any viral infection. As such a diabetic person requires a longer duration to recover and with the number of health risks that diabetes poses, diabetics are at greater risk of developing severe health hazards from the said virus. 

The Link Between Diabetes And COVID-19

When people with diabetes contract a viral infection such as Covid-19, it becomes hard to treat them due to the fluctuations in their blood glucose levels and other complications. Research studies conducted at the CDC  revealed that more than 14% of patients who were earlier hospitalized with COVID-19 and then recovered were also newly diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, establishing a clear link between these two. 

The CDC further cites research indicating that people with diabetes who develop COVID-19 may have a 7.3% risk of death from a COVID-related illness, as compared with 5.6% for people who have cancer. 

“The relative risk for Covid-19 related death in people living with diabetes increased by 43 per cent”
- German Diabetes Centre, Leibniz Centre for Diabetes Research 

A diabetic individual is predisposed to abnormal glucose characteristics and glucose regulation. Diabetes accelerates the progression from this state towards a more uncontrolled state. This results in them being more prone to severe COVID. 

Some tips for diabetics

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has reminded people now and again that diabetics and those with hypertension need to take their medicines regularly. It is vital to continue all the medications as prescribed- regularly as before, even if the patient is mildly symptomatic. Also, medications to control cholesterol should be continued as well.

It’s important to remember that having well-controlled diabetes alone does not seem to put anyone more at risk for contracting severe Covid-19, but other factors like older age, high-exposure employment, consistently elevated blood glucose levels, or other non-diabetes related health factors like obesity and hypertension may increase your risk of infection. Diabetics can easily lead a normal and healthy life, even during these times provided that good lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, adequate medication and a balanced diet are adhered to and, of course, Covid 19 related safety protocols are followed. 

With everything said, It’s clearly evident that even though a diabetic is just as prone to Covid-19 as any other person, the consequences, if one does test positive, can be lethal. This means that other than prescribed medication, a diabetic needs to maintain a healthier lifestyle than others to ensure that their immunity does not stand compromised.