Over the last three decades—in the period 1980 to 2014—the number of people with diabetes has soared from 108 million to 415 million. And, by 2040, there will be 642 million diabetic patients.
These staggering numbers have always been a matter of great concern in the global health community. But, today, it has become even more alarming, since several medical studies suggest diabetic patients are most vulnerable to serious coronavirus complications.
Clinical professor of pharmacy practice at Purdue University, Dr. Jasmine Gonzalvo, says,
“It’s not that diabetic patients have a high risk of contracting the disease, but they have a higher risk of complications.” Further, she added, “If they are following social distancing recommendations and washing hands, they are at no higher risk, from what we know, of contracting the disease.”
Diabetes is a big risk factor for COVID-19 patients
Coronavirus infection is a double whammy for diabetic people. The WHO and many medical institutes across the globe have reported diabetes is one of the most significant factors that affect the severity of COVID-19 infection.
Diabetic patients have to maintain their body sugar levels with decreased or variable intake of food. Diabetes is a significant risk factor for mortality and hospitalization from coronavirus infection.
What explains the increased risk of diabetes?
First things first, people living with diabetes— Type 1 or Type 2—doesn’t mean they are more likely to catch this novel virus than those without it.
Instead, diabetic patients are at high risk of developing severe medical complications from any infectious virus, including influenza and related complications such as secondary bacterial pneumonia.
Because people with diabetes have a compromised immune system. Their immune-response is impaired and both linked to cytokine profile and T-cell and macrophage activation.
Novel corona and other viruses thrive in an elevated blood glucose environment.
Diabetes further keeps the body in a state of low-level inflammation, and this makes the healing process any infectious slower. So, high blood sugar levels, coupled with a persistent inflammatory state, make it pretty difficult for diabetic patients to recover from viral infections like COVID-19.
“These preliminary findings suggest that in the United States, persons with underlying health conditions or other recognized risk factors for severe outcomes from respiratory infections appear to be at a higher risk for severe disease from COVID-19 than are persons without these Conditions,” as per the Center for Disease Control.
It is perhaps a plausible explanation of why the mortality rate is quite high among people with diabetes compared with general mortality from coronavirus around the globe.
Recently, it has also been seen that obese type 2 diabetic patients at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection.
What diabetic people and their families need to do?
If you’ve got diabetes, take necessary precautions to protect yourself from coronavirus. There are many recommendations issued in the interest of the general public by states and medical experts; still, they are doubly important for diabetic patients or someone in your close contact.
- Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- During this COVID-19 lockdown don’t step out of your house, unless it is something bigger than your life.
- Avoid touching your eyes and face
- Disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched frequently, other than you and your family members.
- Avoid contact with anyone having signs of respiratory illness like coughing and sneezing.
- Wear a cloth face mask in public.
- Don’t forget the social distance of 6 feet, even with a friendly guy next door.
- If you are feeling ill with any flu-like symptoms, stay at home, stay safe.
Anyone with diabetes experiencing symptoms of coronavirus such as the dry cough, high-fever, or breathlessness, must contact their health care provider immediately. And, if the doctor recommends, get tested for COVID-19 to clear any sort of doubt.
There are different types of coronavirus testing methods. It includes a swab test, antibiotic test using ELISA kit, nasal aspirate, sputum test, and Tracheal aspirate
Although people living with diabetes are at risk of developing more severe complications from any viral infection, it is possible to alleviate that by maintaining the body’s blood sugar levels.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle, including 30-minutes of indoor yoga to your daily routine during these lockdown days,
- Reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet,
- Most importantly, stay away from the stress and anxiety
- Use technology to stay in touch with your physician to monitor your blood sugar levels and take regular advice to stay healthy during this tough global crisis.