CORONAVIRUS AND DIABETES:
5 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Coronavirus and Diabetes

The current Covid-19 pandemic that originated in China now affects us all around the World. In this chaos, we’re all having trouble to find consistent answers to our questions among this extremely rich stream of information coming from, sometimes, very contradictory sources. 

We’ve taken our time to write this article because we’ve been waiting for solid scientific information about the effects of coronavirus on people living with diabetes. As of today, things are still not that clear at all, and even scientists continue to express different opinions about the Covid-19 pandemic in general, and about the virus’s impact on diabetic people in particular. 

We have selected 5 facts about coronavirus and diabetes that are now verified and constitute true and valid information. 

PEOPLE WITH DIABETES ARE NOT MORE LIKELY TO GET COVID-19

Actually, we do not know if people with diabetes are more likely or not to get infected by coronavirus, As of today, there are no clear evidence that people with diabetes face a higher risk of getting infected by Covid-19 than the general population. Actual numbers do not show that people with diabetes are being affected to a larger proportion than people without diabetes. Thus, there is no need to increase the panic by conveying uncertain information. 

However it is true that in general, infectious diseases are more frequent in people with diabetesWe could then think that people with an unbalanced diabetes may be facing a higher risk of getting infected by Covid-19. But there are no reason to argue that people perfectly managing their diabetes would be at higher risk than the general population. 

But again, there are currently NO numbers available yet to be able to get real statistics about the frequency of infections by coronavirus among people living with diabetes.

PEOPLE WITH DIABETES ARE MORE LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE SERIOUS COMPLICATIONS FROM COVID-19

What we do know already, and unfortunately, is that, once they’ve gotten infected by the coronavirus, people with diabetes are more likely to experience serious complications that the general population.

Like any other virus infection, coronavirus infection can impose more severe complications on people with diabetes. For that reason, diabetic people are considered by the World Health Organisation to be at high-risk for severe illness from Covid-19.

"While we are still learning about how COVID-19 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than other."

Like the Global Diabetes Community underlines it in its Coronavirus Updates, “The Center for Disease Control reported on data on more than 44,000 people with the condition from the early days of the infection in China. While the case fatalities of those without an underlying medical condition was 0.9%, it was seen that those with diabetes were at a greater risk of 7%, and 10.5% for those with cardiovascular disease – strongly indicating that those with a long-term health condition are more vulnerable to coronavirus.” 

IF DIABETES IS WELL-MANAGED, CORONAVIRUS RISK IS ABOUT THE SAME AS GENERAL POPULATION

If your diabetes is well-managed, your blood glucose levels are under control and your glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) is good, the risks you face of both getting infected by coronavirus and getting seriously ill if infected by the virus are about the same as the general population.

Whether you’re a type 1 diabetic or a type 2 diabetic does not seem change anything when it comes to Covid-19. The important factor is that your diabetes is well-managed and you do not have any other diabetes-related health problems. 

As the American Diabetes Organisation reminds it in its Covid-19 FAQs, “When people with diabetes do not manage their diabetes well and experience fluctuating blood sugars, they are generally at risk for a number of diabetes-related complications. Having heart disease or other complications in addition to diabetes could worsen the chance of getting seriously ill from COVID-19, like other viral infections, because your body’s ability to fight off an infection is compromised.

The greater frequency of infections and seriousness of infections in diabetic people is caused by the hyperglycemic environment that favors immune dysfunctions. So, if your diabetes perfectly controlled, you should not have any reason to be more worried than any other person. 

CORONAVIRUS CAN DESTABILIZE YOUR BLOOD GLUCOSE AND KETONES

Even if your diabetes is perfectly under control in normal times, coronavirus, like any other viral infection, can have an impact on your blood sugars and your diabetes management. Indeed, you’re probably already aware that when you have diabetes, being ill can make your blood sugar rise up to the sky. Your body is busy trying to fight the infection and can release stored glucose to get more energy while not being able to produce insulin. 

As a diabetic, if you have contracted Covid-19, or if you experience some of its symptoms, there are some things that you must be more vigilant about than usual.  Of course, and before taking any steps, get in touch with your doctor. He will tell you the right things to do and the right medication to take if necessary. 

When infected by covid-19 you may be taking some medication that can impact your blood sugars, or you may not feel like eating or drinking as much as usual. For these reasons:

– It is crucial to carefully monitor your blood glucose more often than usual (every few hours at least)

– You may need more insulin than usual to down your blood glucose levels

– If you have a hard time lowering your blood glucose levels, watch out for ketones which high levels could happen and lead to extremely dangerous diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)

– Keep hydrated drinking a cup of water every hour

In any case, stay vigilant and call your doctor if you experience any uncontrollable symptoms. 

PEOPLE WITH DIABETES HAVE LEGAL RIGHTS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

As a person with diabetes, and depending on your country of residence, you may have special legal rights during the Covid-19 pandemic. These special rights usually regards your employment situation. Indeed as a diabetic, you’re considered a high-risk person during the coronavirus pandemic, and some governments have put in place special protection for you. 

To know what your legal rights are during the Covid-19 pandemic, please refer to your national diabetes organisation that should be able to inform you and help you out. Here are a few interesting links depending on where you are: 

– USA: Know your rights Covid-19 

– UK: Guidance for employers and businesses on Coronavirus 

CORONAVIRUS AND QUARANTINE: Tips for managing diabetes while in quarantine

CORONAVIRUS AND QUARANTINE

Tips for managing Diabetes while in quarantine
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