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Is Diabetes a Risk Factor for COVID-19?

Published on Mar 30, 2020 and last reviewed on Jan 20, 2023   -  5 min read


COVID-19 has posed a great challenge to the diabetic community. The risk of severe disease progression is increased in people with diabetes. Read this article to know about COVID-19 and its association with diabetes.

Is Diabetes a Risk Factor for COVID-19?

What Is Diabetes and What Are Its Types?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder. In this disorder, the patient is known to have increased blood sugar levels than normal. This may be due to genetics, environmental factors, or malfunctioning of the pancreas. Once it affects them, the entire body system begins to collapse. This will end up in kidney damage, nerve damage, and eye damage. This is known in medical terms as nephropathy, neuropathy, and retinopathy. The other complications include cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, foot problems, and loss of hearing. The reason why diabetes is very detrimental is that it causes the body’s immune mechanism the immune mechanism of the body to shatter. It can affect both genders. There are three types of diabetes. They are

Type 1: It is commonly seen in young children. It is also known as juvenile diabetes. This is a very rare condition. In type 1 diabetes, the cells producing the insulin are defective.

Type 2: This is the most common type of diabetes. When the body is unable to use insulin effectively, it might end up in type-2 diabetes. It is seen in middle-aged and older people.

Type 3: It is known as gestational diabetes and is seen in pregnant women.

What Is the Normal Level of Diabetes?

Normal blood sugar levels should be less than 100 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) under fasting conditions. After two hours of eating your food, it should be less than 140 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).

What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis?

  1. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a highly serious complication of diabetes. It occurs when your body produces high levels of ketones. Ketones are blood acids.

  2. This condition develops when the body is not able to produce enough insulin. Due to insufficient insulin, a buildup of acid takes place leading to diabetic ketoacidosis.

Who Is at High Risk of COVID-19?

Human body has an inbuilt capacity to fight all foreign objects and parasites. So, a healthy individual has a higher possibility of success rate in recovery. People who are elderly are at high risk, especially if that person is known to be diabetic. There is an increased chance of several complications. The immune system of the body becomes compromised, therefore our body fails to fight against new intruders.

The data collected by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) from the beginning of the pandemic shows that -

  • Patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within two months if they have diabetes or kidney disease.
  • Patients experiencing severe COVID-19 complications comprise 39.7 % of diabetic patients, and this percentage increases to 46.5 % in patients aged 50 to 64.
  • Patients younger than 18 years with COVID-19 were 2.5 times more likely to be newly diagnosed with diabetes within months after the infection than those without COVID-19.

Why Is Coronavirus Dangerous for Diabetics Patients?

Patients with any underlying condition, especially diabetes may not have stable health to withstand and combat the virus. There is no proper evidence to show that diabetes people are more likely to get COVID-19. From the studies done so far, people with diabetes had much higher rates of serious complications resulting in death than others without diabetes.

What Should People With Diabetes Do If They Have the Virus?

It is essential that you get diagnosed with an organized health center. Your earlier case sheet for diabetes and the treatment you were undergoing should be mentioned in written format. You should be aware of the medications you are taking for diabetes. It is necessary that you perform the HbA1c test. It is a common blood test that is used for the diagnosis of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It shows how you are managing your diabetes. You should report to the doctor immediately and remain safe in an isolation ward. In addition, you should check your blood sugar more frequently (about every six hours), and if it comes out to be above 250 mg/dL, it should be immediately reported. If a patient has type 1 diabetes and their blood sugar rises above 250, they are at a higher risk of getting diabetic ketoacidosis.

How Can the Virus Be Avoided?

You cannot actually detect the presence of a virus. It can be anywhere and it cannot be seen with your naked eyes. Therefore, it is good to be aware all the time.

  • Get your vaccination at your turn as it helps in reducing the risk of developing severe disease progression.
  • Social distancing is necessary to stay safe. Always maintain a certain distance from everyone.
  • Keep your hands clean all the time by practicing proper hand hygiene techniques.
  • Also, make sure to keep your blood sugar levels in control by taking the medications as suggested by your physician, by walking daily for at least 30 minutes, and following a diabetic diet.

What Foods Help Reduce Diabetes?

Food control is highly essential for a diabetic patient. It is good for them to avoid certain foods that are rich in glucose. Avoid sweets, honey, coffee, tea, chocolates, and junk foods. Bread, dried fruits, pasta, and rice are not suitable for diabetic patients. Here is a list of food items to be followed.

  1. Seafoods like fish. Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.

  2. Bottle gourd Juice.

  3. Green leafy vegetables. All the green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits are good nutritious choices.

  4. Yogurt.

  5. Eggs.

  6. Cinnamon.

  7. Turmeric.

  8. Nuts like almonds.

What Is HbA1c Test and Why Is It Useful for Diabetic Patients?

The Diabetic Association of America has recommended that diabetic people should aim to maintain hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) level below 7 percent. Maintaining a level of less than 6.5 is much better for health. Your HbA1c level measures the quantity of glycated hemoglobin. The HbA1c test result reflects your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. The HbA1c test measures the percentage of glycated hemoglobin in red blood cells. Higher the level of HbA1c, your blood sugar control is poorer.

What Are the Sick Day Rules for Diabetic People?

  1. Keep yourselves hydrated.

  2. Regularly monitor your blood glucose levels.

  3. Check your body temperature to identify if you have a fever.

  4. If you are on insulin injections, monitor your ketone body level to detect diabetic ketoacidosis.

  5. Perform regular exercises at home.

  6. Get the help of health care professionals and their teams.

What Is the Control Key for Diabetic Patients With COVID-19?

The golden key for control in diabetic patients is maintaining the glycemic levels. Diabetic patients should be sure that they always have an adequate supply of the medications they regularly use. Any vitamin and mineral deficiency should be replaced immediately.


Diabetes is a chronic and more prevalent disease. In addition, the risk of COVID-19 complications is high in diabetic patients. Therefore, it is better to keep your blood glucose levels controlled and get vaccinations on time to avoid such complications. Talk to the healthcare specialist for more advice about the management of diabetes and COVID-19.


Frequently Asked Questions


Are Diabetics Susceptible to COVID-19?

Yes, any underlying illness, particularly diabetes, may prevent patients from having a stable enough state of health to endure and fight the virus. The body's immune system deteriorates, making it unable to defend itself against pathogens. However, there is insufficient data to support the claim that COVID-19 is more common in people with diabetes.


What Is the Connection Between Diabetes and COVID?

COVID-19 problems are more likely to occur in diabetics. When exposed to any virus, people with diabetes are more prone to experience more severe symptoms and problems. As hyperglycemia leads to immune dysfunction.


Are Diabetics People at a Lower Risk of Getting COVID?

No, diabetes-related hyperglycemia is hypothesized to impair the immune system, making it unable to stop the spread of foreign infections in diabetic people. Diabetes patients are therefore known to be more prone to infections.


Why Do Certain People Not Get COVID?

Certain people may possess a gene mutation that makes their T cells and antibodies ready to fight off viral infections like coronaviruses, such as the common cold, as soon as they are exposed to them.


Do People With Diabetes Experience Lengthy COVID?

Patients with diabetes may have weakened immune systems, which can slow down the body's capacity to recover from illness or infection. In addition, when infected with any virus, such as COVID-19, uncontrolled diabetes may have negative effects on the body and result in more severe symptoms and lengthy COVID.


How Are Diabetic COVID Patients Managed?

Maintaining glucose levels is the secret to success for diabetes individuals seeking control. Patients with diabetes need to ensure they always have a sufficient supply of the prescription drugs they take daily. Diabetic individuals with COVID - 19 will benefit from immediate replacement of any vitamin and mineral deficiencies, routine glucose monitoring, a good diet, appropriate hydration, and dose titration of glucose-lowering medication.


How Does COVID Recovery Work for Diabetics?

COVID recovery for patients with diabetes might be slow due to variations in blood glucose levels and sometimes the existence of diabetes complications. Infections with viruses can also cause internal edema or inflammation in diabetics. Treating viral infections in people with diabetes can be challenging and can lead to more serious consequences.


How Does COVID Impact Diabetics’ Blood Sugar Levels?

The inflammation-stimulating cytokines appear to be significantly affected by COVID. That worsens insulin resistance and may cause blood sugar levels to rise (hyperglycemia). Hyperglycemia weakens the immune system, increasing patient susceptibility to various infections.


How Is Diabetes Diagnosed With HbA1c?

The amount of glycated hemoglobin is measured by the HbA1c level. The HbA1c test outcome represents the average blood sugar level during the previous two to three months. The HbA1c test calculates the proportion of red blood cells with glycated hemoglobin. The HbA1c level increases with worse blood sugar control.


When Should the HbA1c Test Be Done?

The HbA1c test is used to diagnose and track diabetes. The test is used to determine a person's level of recent diabetes management in those who have the disease. This test should be performed every three to six months for diabetics or more frequently if their condition is not under control.


What Is the HbA1c Normal Range?

An HbA1c result of 5.7 percent or less is considered normal, 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, and 6.5 percent or more is considered diabetes. The risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes increases with HbA1c.

Last reviewed at:
20 Jan 2023  -  5 min read




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