The risk is not that those with diabetes are more susceptible to infection. The risk lies in the fact that the severity of the COVID infection can be greater in those with diabetes
In trying to understand the nature of the Coronavirus and how it attacks individuals, studies have shown several findings because the virus seems to attack every individual differently. This has a lot to do with the personal medical history of the infected individual. From the start of the pandemic one section of society has always been more at risk than others – people with diabetes. What is the connection? What puts people with diabetes in the high-risk category?
What needs to be made clear is that the risk is not that those with diabetes are more susceptible to infection. The risk lies in the fact that the severity of the COVID infection can be greater in those with diabetes. Even though we have now been battling with the coronavirus and its evolving/ changing strains, studies are still in its nascent stage. Whether the person has Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes or Gestational diabetes – they are at increased risk of complications if they are infected with COVID.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COVID & DIABETES
Anyone can get infected with the coronavirus. However, the reason we see elderly people having it worse than the younger generation, is the fact that the former section of people tends to have more underlying medical conditions. These medical conditions worsen with a COVID infection. However, what makes it even worse for those with Diabetes, is the fact that in general, people with diabetes are prone to complications from any viral infection, and COVID is a viral infection.
When people with diabetes contract a COVID infection, treatment is difficult because of the fluctuation of their blood sugar levels. Recent studies suggest that COVID-19 could precipitate acute metabolic complications of diabetes such as diabetic ketoacidosis and non ketotic hyperglycaemia by interrupting insulin secretion. Diabetic Ketoacidosis occurs when high levels of acids called ketones build up in the blood. This is a potentially serious condition. Hyperglycaemia in diabetes causes dysfunction of immune response. An impaired immune system makes the person more vulnerable to disease and infection. Hence the possibility of severe complications in the face of a COVID infection.
The first reaction of the body to the coronavirus (in some people) is sepsis – which is when the immune system releases a lot of chemicals into the blood, triggering off widespread inflammation that can further lead to organ damage. To treat sepsis, body fluid and electrolyte levels need to be managed. However, Diabetic Ketoacidosis causes loss of electrolytes making it hard to control and sepsis. It’s like a chain reaction of one adverse event leading to another. And with immunity down, treatment becomes that much more complicated.
In addition to diabetes if the individual has a heart condition or a lung condition, COVID related symptoms will be even more severe – often life-threatening even.
PRECAUTION IS THE BEST MEDICINE
Those with diabetes need to be extra careful and hence must follow all necessary pandemic precautions. The basic precautions being:
Additional Precautions for those with Diabetes:
CONSULTANT – ENDOCRINOLOGY
MBBS, MD, DM (ENDOCRINOLOGY)