Covid manifests uniquely in each individual. And for those with comorbid conditions, the effect of the infection mostly turns severe. Especially people suffering from diabetes when contracted by Covid 19 infection, witness adverse symptoms. “While in the first wave the elderly with conditions like diabetes, cardiac problems were mostly affected by the pandemic, in the second wave even younger generation with lifestyle disorders have been hit badly by the infection. Uncontrolled diabetes not only increases the severity of Covid when contracted, but it can also make people susceptible to other bacterial and fungal infections as well,” said Dr Radhika V Kumar, senior consultant – endocrinology, Columbia Asia Hospital Sarjapur Road (A unit of Manipal Hospitals).
Uncontrolled diabetes and Covid
Diabetes lowers the immune response, thus making it harder for the body to fight the virus. Therefore, Covid 19 infection combined with diabetes can affect the overall wellbeing of the body causing severe health issues thereby prolonging the recovery time.
Also, diabetes can increase blood sugar levels and studies have proven that viruses like Covid can thrive in the high blood sugar environment.
“Uncontrolled diabetes can also hamper the blood flow making it difficult for the body to harness nutrients which is the natural defence system. Therefore, diabetic patients take time to recover from the infection. Also, diabetes keeps the body in a state of low-level inflammation which usually delays healing,” Dr Kumar told indianexpress.com.
Increase in blood sugar level with Covid
The increase in Covid cases and the subsequent lockdown have forced people to stay at home. This has drastically reduced physical activities. The closure of gyms and parks has also added to the woes making people less active. This has had a drastic impact on health as well as the blood sugar level.
‘When the body encounters any kind of infection, it increases the blood sugar level. An unhealthy diet, high fever during Covid times can increase the sugar level in an individual. The intake of steroids, which is unavoidable in few patients as a part of the medication, can add to it. Therefore, it is mandatory to get the blood sugar level tested on a regular basis and take precautions to control high blood sugar levels. If the patient is diabetic and has tested positive for Covid, it is important to monitor his sugar levels and if required needs to be treated with insulin,” the expert explained.
Diabetes during Covid can cause complications
Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Uncontrolled diabetes combined with Covid 19 can put a person at risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis. This occurs when high levels of acids called ketones build up in your blood. This condition can lead to a medical emergency.
Mucormycosis: Uncontrolled diabetes coupled with Covid 19 may lead to mucormycosis in few patients. High sugar levels, steroid usage along with Covid infection can further add to the risk.
Pneumonia: People with diabetes who develop COVID-19 also have a higher risk of developing a more severe form of Covid-19 like pneumonia.
People with diabetes can protect themselves from contracting the virus by taking precautions like:
*Following hand hygiene
*Avoiding touching surfaces when you are outdoors
*Disinfecting surfaces that are more prone to contamination like tabletops and door handles
*Not touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
*Practicing physical distancing
*Avoiding all contact with people who are unwell, especially if they are suffering from fever, cough etc
*Strengthening the immune system by following a regular sleep routine, reduced stress and adequate amount of exercise
*Maintaining adequate intake of foods and fluids
*Trying to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range
*Monitoring blood sugar levels regularly
*Taking medications for diabetes
In times of the pandemic, it is crucial to take measures to avoid any unforeseen complications.