Dr. Radhika V Kumar, Senior Consultant –Endocrinology, Columbia Asia Hospital Sarjapur Road (A unit of Manipal Hospitals)
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 are hit badly by the infection. Uncontrolled diabetes not only increases the severity of Covid when contracted, it can make people susceptible to other bacterial and fungal infections as well.
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 level and studies have proven that virus like Covid can thrive in the high blood sugar environment.
Uncontrolled diabetes can hamper the blood flow making it difficult for the body to harness nutrients which is the natural defense 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.
Increase in blood sugar level with Covid:
The increase in Covid cases and the subsequent lockdown has forced people to stay at home. This has drastically reduced the physical activities. Closure of gym 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. 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 level. 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.
Diabetes during Covid can cause complications
- Diabetic Ketoacidosis: An 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 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 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
- Disinfect surfaces that are more prone to contamination liketabletops and door handles
- Do not touch eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Practice physical distancing
- Avoid all contact with people who are unwell, especially if they are suffering from fever, cough etc
- Strengthen your immune system by following a regular sleep routine, reduced stress and adequate amount of exercise
- Maintain adequate intake of food and fluids
- Try to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range
- Monitor blood sugar level regularly
- Take medications for diabetes
In the time of pandemic, it is crucial to take measures to avoid any unforeseen complications.