Coronavirus and Diabetes: All You Need to Know

/ Lifestyle
One in 10 diabetics with coronavirus dies within seven days of hospital admission, according to a study of more than 1,300 patients published in the journal Diabetologia.

What is the connection between coronavirus and diabetes?

If the deadly virus outbreak wasn’t formidable enough, reports entail that people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to die from coronavirus as those without it.  According to Arab News, this has gotten the Gulf region’s health experts, upset. A diabetic’s risk of catching the tract infection is the same as anyone else’s but once infected, there come complications and healing is prolonged for the patient. WebMD reports that 25% of severely impacted COVID patients are diabetics.

The UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar are listed in the top 15 nations for the highest rate of diabetes per capita.

“Doctors have warned that people with pre-existing health conditions including asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and weakened immunity are at increased risk."

So what makes it hard for diabetics to fight off the virus?

Do you know that a simple cut on a diabetic’s body takes much longer to heal than that on a normal person’s body? That’s right- diabetics have low immunity to ward off diseases, heal, and fight off infections. The low blood sugar weakens the system and due to the fluctuations of blood glucose, multi-organ failure can occur.

Are the risks different for patients with diabetes type 1 and 2?

“People who already have diabetes-related health problems are likely to have worse outcomes if they contract COVID-19 than people with diabetes who are otherwise healthy, whichever type of diabetes they have,” quotes the Diabetes Association.

What this means is that no matter what type of diabetes the individual has, if it is not well-managed, and there are other underlying health conditions as well, coronavirus would be very difficult to manage.

Furthermore, people with diabetes when sick with a viral infection have the probability of contracting DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) where there is a buildup of acidic substances in the body. Individuals with diabetes type 1 are more prone to it.

Diabetic patients need to keep in contact with their specialists at all times, to best monitor their conditions. Top endocrinologists can be consulted here.

Diabetes and coronavirus. Isolated diabetic patient.
Prevention is better than a virus with no cure!

How can diabetics avoid contracting the virus?

The precautions are the same as a non-diabetic individual’s.

·         The person should avoid leaving the home unless absolutely necessary. If there are other members present in the household, they should perform the essential chores rather than having the diabetic person do so.

·         Good hygiene and social distancing should be maintained and if one has to interact, a face mask should be worn and a distance of 6 feet should be kept at all times.

·         The house should be disinfected.

·         Hands should be properly washed before giving oneself a finger stick or insulin shot.

·         If possible, the diabetic patient should be allocated a separate room, disposable or labeled utensils, and other personal items should not be shared.

·         A healthy lifestyle (avoiding sugary drinks and food, indulging in portion control, and maintaining or losing weight according to BMI) should be adopted.

·         During stress, blood sugar levels should be monitored regularly.

·         Get plenty of exercise to stay in shape.

·         Try diabetic-friendly recipes in the kitchen.

What are some tips for diabetic patients to be prepared for the coronavirus?

·         During stress, blood sugar levels should be monitored regularly.

·         Have extra medications in stock. Ask your pharmacist for refills. You can make a tele-appointment with your doctor to get an e-prescription.

·         Stock up on essential food such as frozen vegetables, healthy candies for when your sugar drops, and simple carbs.

·         Have the phone numbers of your doctors, insurance company and pharmacy saved.

What should diabetic patients do if they think they’re falling sick?

The patient should get tested immediately to rule out the possibility of having contracted the virus. They should keep hydrated, and closely note down any changes in their appetite. COVID can cause diabetic patients to eat less. If they experience dizziness, shortness of breath and excessive nausea, they should consult their doctor immediately.

Do diabetic patients who have tested positive for coronavirus recover?

Yes. Though it has been challenging, it is very much attainable. Given the circumstances that the patient has no pre-existing health conditions and is managing diabetes, the risk of the virus vigorously impacting the patient is low. Hakeem shares a story of Suleman Abid, a recovered coronavirus diabetic patient.

“Hello, my name is Suleman and I live in Doha. I started showing symptoms on Feb 1st. It was my second time contracting the virus. I was following all precautions and it is unknown to me how I contracted the virus which is why for the longest time I brushed it off. I thought that I was just down with the flu. I strongly urge all my fellow readers to not do that. My doctor said that my condition worsened because I came after thirteen days of feeling ill. Till that time I had started sleeping excessively, spending days vomiting and going through excessive diarrhea. My body had become very weak. I could not chew and I certainly had a hard time breathing. My condition was fluctuating and the moment the doctors thought I would get better, I got worse. They thought that managing my oxygen levels would solve it, but I ended up requiring plasma. It is hard to think that you’re not going to make it but harder waiting for a donor. My family (who were all safe from the clutches of the horrid virus), were told that I might need ventilator support. I had lost all hope. During the third week of the treatment, I started breathing better – but I still thought that I wasn’t going to make it. Thankfully or should I say miraculously, I did. I started taking solids and talking to my family on video calls. This whole experience has taught me to always be in touch with your doctor, work towards a healthy lifestyle, and value life. I can’t control the fact that I have diabetes but I can control what I put my body through.”


Hello, I'm Ayesha and I would love to hear your feedback. P.S If you want to be featured on the Hakeem website, send me an email at [email protected]!

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