COVID-19 and your diabetes risk: Here’s what you should know

Evidences from around the world suggest that chronic conditions like diabetes and others increase your chance of catching severe COVID-29 infection. High blood sugar levels also increase your mortality risk from this infection, reveals a growing body pf research. A recent study published in the journal Lancet, on the other hand, observed that COVID-19 infection could actually trigger diabetes in otherwise healthy people too. Researchers claim that the novel coronavirus escalates blood sugar levels by attacking cells that produce insulin, the hormone that plays an instrumental role in diabetes. However, this study has not been conducted on humans yet. Also Read – We may have a COVID-19 vaccine within 1 year, says WHO chief

Globally, it has been found that people hospitalized for COVID-19 infection are also diagnosed with diabetes. This is a clear sign that people with this infection are either have no insulin or insufficient levels of this hormone. Additionally, a group of diabetes experts have also shared in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine on June 12 that there have been quite a few instances where COVID-19 positive patients are experiencing the onset of diabetes. Also Read – Delhi initiates comprehensive serological survey to determine spread of COVID-19

Covid-19 And High Blood Sugar Levels: The Link

Several studies have shown that the novel coronavirus needs proteins known as ACE-2 to enter the human body. Though our lungs are highly populated with ACE-2, they also reside in other tissues and organs associated with glucose metabolism: Pancreas, the small intestine, the fat tissue, the liver and the kidney. Experts are of the opinion that the novel coronavirus sneaks into these organs imparts glucose metabolism. This is what triggers diabetes or high blood sugar levels. However, more research and data about COVID-19 patients with diabetes are required to reach a conclusive opinion. Also Read – Beware: COVID-19 may lead to altered mental state, other brain issues

One school of thought suggests that the novel coronavirus may not be the cause, but a catalyst to diabetes. The stress it induces on the body depletes your insulin levels, triggering high blood sugar levels. Moreover, the physical trauma associated with the treatment of COVID-19 can also result in stress-induced hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels).

Were you suffering from diabetes beforehand?

Some experts suspect that many COVID-19 patients might be suffering from diabetes beforehand. This can be detected with the help of a blood test known as HbA1c. It diagnoses your blood sugar levels for the last three months. Experts also suggest that if diabetes is induced by the novel coronavirus, then chances are that blood sugar levels will resume to normal once COVID-19 infection is cured.

High Blood Sugar Levels Increase Your COVID-19 Death Risk

A research published in the journal Science Advances reports that the risk of dying from COVID-19 infection increases if you have diabetes. It observes that this happens due to the overproduction of immune cells (cytokines) in the lungs, a physiological process known as cytokine storm. This process increases glucose metabolism and affects diabetes patients worse than others because they are likely to be infected by a more severe strain of the novel coronavirus, observe researchers. Cytokine storm results in localised inflammation, which can be fatal.

Diabetes And Other Viruses

A range of viruses has been associated with the onset of type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition where your body is unable to secrete insulin, which is essential for blood sugar regulation. Researchers have found that these viruses attack your immune system and trigger autoimmune diseases. According to the findings of a research published in the journal Acta Diabetologica, the SARS virus, a close cousin of the novel coronavirus, led to the onset of diabetes in many people.

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