Diabetes and COVID-19  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Studies of thousands of cases in the US, UK, and China have shown that some people developed diabetes either during COVID-19 infection or after recovery.
- Incidentally, none of these people who developed diabetes after (or during) the recovery from COVID-19 infection had a history of diabetes.
- Scientists are studying how the virus may have the ability to cause insulin and glucose metabolism malfunctioning, which can cause diabetes.
Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, there has been a flurry of additions of comorbidities that could imperil an infected person’s chances of recovery. Apart from kidney, heart, and liver ailments, cancer, diabetes, and hypertension were listed as comorbidities.
The progression of the path of COVID-19 has flummoxed most medics as it seems to take varying patterns in different people. While some people do not show any symptoms, some others go through the infection period with negligible flu-like symptoms, there have been cases of many people suffering breathlessness, damage to vital organs, and even death in some cases.
Diabetes due to COVID-19 infection? As per a report in The Times of India, there is anecdotal evidence that some people have reportedly developed diabetes either during the infection or after recovery. Over 2700 COVID recovered patients in the US have been surveyed for the same and researchers have found that 14% of them developed diabetes subsequently after having contracted COVID-19. A similar study on about 40,000 COVID-survivors in the UK and China have shown a similar trend.
Incidentally, none of these people who developed diabetes after (or during) the recovery from COVID-19 infection had a history of diabetes.
Scientists have not as yet discovered how or why COVID-19 can cause diabetes. Yet there are some theories about the way the virus progresses within the body that may explain the reasons.
Diabetes as a Long Covid symptom?
COVID-19 is seen to cause widespread damage to organ systems before the patient beats the virus. That has been seen as a reason for lingering aftereffects to the human body, often called the Long Covid. Whether or not diabetes is a symptom of long COVID is unclear yet. However, from what has been observed, scientists and doctors are starting to think that the virus causing COVID-19, SARS-COV-2 has the ability to cause insulin and glucose metabolism malfunctioning, which can cause diabetes.
Damage to the Pancreas and possible theories:
- The virus is known to lower the body’s immunity threshold. The virus interacts with the ACE2 receptors and could lead to the impairment of several vital organs, including the pancreas, causing insulin disturbance.
- The other culprit could be the notorious and unpredictable reaction of the body’s immune system – the cytokine storm – the complication associated with the viral infection which forces the immune system to turn on the body’s own vital organs and systems. A cytokine storm coul make it impossible for the pancreas to sustain vital functioning, or produce normal glucose levels.
- Another possibility is that the virus may impair cell linings, including that of the intestines – thus undermining the organs’ ability to regulate and break down glucose.
- Could the treatment drugs be to blame? Possible, believe some experts. A lot of experimentation and cocktails of drugs have been into play since it is a new disease and steroids too have been used at times. In such cases, there can be a flare-up pf sugar levels in the blood.
Since there have now been cases of Diabetes Type 1 and Type 2 discovered in recovered patients of COVID-19, patients have been asked to be alert for signs such as:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Intense hunger and thirst
- Change in sight or blurry vision
- Slow healing and recovery from cuts, bruises and injuries
- Frequent urination
- Tingling sensation or numbness in body
All the above are signs of the onset of diabetes and should be reported to your treating doctor immediately.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.