Caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease. It spreads person-to-person through close contact with someone who is infected with the virus. COVID-19 symptoms can appear from 2 to 14 days after exposure, which typically includes:
All people living in the infection zone are advised to wear cloth face masks in public areas where it is difficult to maintain the mandatory 6-foot distance from others. This can help slow the spread of COVID-19 from asymptomatic individuals or those who do not know they are infected with the virus. People should wear cloth face masks while continuing to practice social distancing. Note: It is important to reserve N95 respirators and surgical masks for healthcare workers.
People with underlying health conditions like diabetes can be at greater risk of severe medical complications from COVID-19.
Read on to learn more about COVID-19’s impact on people with diabetes.
COVID-19 and Diabetic Patients
In most of the people, the disease will be mild. However, for people with diabetes, the COVID-19 infection is a double challenge. Diabetic patients are at a greater risk of developing severe illness, like pneumonia, from COVID-19.
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition that causes the blood sugar levels to rise higher than the normal. Generally, infectious diseases like COVID-19 are more severe in diabetic patients.
Why are Diabetic Patients at Higher Risk?
The immune system in diabetic patients does not work well, making it harder for their body to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. In addition, COVID-19 virus is said to thrive in an environment of raised blood glucose.
Further, diabetes keeps the body in a low-level state of inflammation as well. This makes the body’s healing response slower to any infection.
High blood sugar levels together with persistent state of inflammation in people with diabetes, makes it much more difficult to recover from illnesses that include COVID-19.
Diabetes mellitus, commonly called diabetes, is a metabolic disorder that causes high blood sugar in the body. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood into our cells to be stored or used as energy. With diabetes, the body either does not make enough insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin it does make.
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
In type 1 diabetes the body ceases to produce or produces less insulin to regulate the level of blood glucose. It was earlier called juvenile onset diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). People suffering from types 1 diabetes need insulin treatment on a daily basis to sustain life.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the pancreas secretes enough insulin, but the body is unable to use the insulin. It was earlier called Adult onset diabetes or Non-insulin dependent mellitus (NIDDM). It rarely occurs at a young age. Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with appropriate exercise, diet, and weight loss.
Gestational diabetes usually occurs in women during the second half of pregnancy. It can lead to health complications for both mother and baby, if care is not taken. Gestational diabetes usually disappears after delivery. Women suffering from this type of diabetes in pregnancy have more chances of getting type 2 diabetes in the later part (years) of their lives.
COVID-19 virus spreads through tiny droplets that spray into the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Any person within 6 feet of this infected person can inhale these droplets. COVID-19 can also spread from touching the frequently touched surfaces the infected person may have touched.
People with diabetes can take precautions and protect themselves from COVID-19 infection by:
Washing hands frequently using soap and water, or using a alcohol-based hand sanitizer when water and soap are unavailable
- Avoiding touching the surfaces that were touched by others.
- Regularly cleaning and disinfecting potentially contaminated surfaces like tabletops, door handles, countertops, etc.
- Not touching the mouth, eyes, or nose, with unwashed hands.
- Practicing social distancing – staying at least 6 feet away from anyone in public places.
- Avoiding any contact with sick people, especially with those having fever, cough, or both.
- Getting at least 7-hours sleep at night to keep the immune system strong and reducing the stress level as much as possible.
- Maintaining suitable intake of fluids and food but ensuring that this is as per the diet plan to control diabetes . Steer clear of unhealthy food choices due to boredom or stress .
- Keeping good control over the blood sugar levels
The Bottom Line
Although diabetic patients are at risk of more severe medical complications from COVID-19, it is possible to decrease the risk by maintaining good control over the blood sugar levels and following COVID-19 infection prevention measures.
Any diabetic patient who notices COVID-19 symptoms should contact the nearest healthcare centre as soon as possible or call: 1075 or 011 2397 8046, immediately.