For someone with diabetes or a caregiver, healthcare during the COVID-19 situation is quite crucial to avoid the risk of infection as underlying health conditions like diabetes have been popularly reported to make a patient prone to COVID-19. Here are some important points on coronavirus and how diabetes can be risky for COVID-19 infection.
What is COVID-19?
Last month, COVID-19 has been announced as a pandemic by WHO and it has led to a series of international lockdowns. As WHO suggested, self-quarantine and social distancing are the two major tactics against the spread of this virus. COVID-19 is caused by a zoonotic virus known as coronaviruses (CoV), and although these viruses have been dealt with before as MERS-CoV and SERS-CoV, the current havoc is wreaked by a new strain called 2019-nCoV.
What are the symptoms?
Respiratory issues may include cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia. Additional symptoms may also be in the form of fever, body aches, and sore throat. In severe cases, COVID-19 symptoms can flare up as kidney failure, organ inflammation, or ARDS. The complications can range from mild to fatal but aged people are at a higher risk of getting infected as compared to the rest of the population. Furthermore, underlying health conditions like heart problems or metabolic disorders can also pose a greater risk for COVID-19 infection.
How does COVID-19 situation impact Diabetes?
The American Diabetes Association says COVID-19 is more serious than any seasonal flu for patients with diabetes. Diabetes falls under the risk factor criteria concerning underlying health conditions and according to WHO, people with such conditions develop more serious illness when they are affected by the virus. Therefore, it is utmost important for diabetes patients and their caregivers to prevent themselves from COVID-19 with extra safety and precautions.
In case of diabetes, the body stops making enough insulin to help cells intake glucose from the blood and thus there is a high blood glucose level in patients. In Type-1 Diabetes, the immune system attacks the pancreatic cells and thus there is a need for immune suppression besides external insulin injections. In Type-2 Diabetes, there is a lower expression of insulin and this is the most common form of diabetes which requires the conventional external insulin injections for treatment. While the condition in Type-1 affects the immune system of the body and weakens the body against any viral infection, Type-2 can also increase the incidence of infectious diseases and related problems. In short, both Type-1 and Type-2 Diabetes can increase the risk of COVID-19 contraction.
Do Diabetics have higher rates of COVID-19 complication?
In case of COVID-19, reports indicate that people with diabetes had much higher rates of serious complications than people without diabetes.
Patients with diabetes suffer from hyperglycemia (higher level of blood sugar) which may cause the dysfunction of the immune response, thus paving the path for viral infections to occur. Hyperglycemia is also reported to result in delayed immune response in patients with diabetes due to some inflammatory response. Some patients may also experience problems in their circulatory system which can restrict or hamper the accessibility of immune cells to infected areas.
Therefore in case of COVID-19 infection, the body of a diabetes patient is very vulnerable to serious health complications and thus patients should be highly aware of the precautions.
Tips for Diabetics during this COVID-19 situation?
- Practice self-isolation and social distancing by staying indoors.
- Please ensure your care-giver is clean and hygienic.
- Stock up atleast a few-weeks-worth of medical supplies and insulin
- Make a virtual medical plan by consulting your doctor.
- Never hesitate to ask for medical help.