Understanding the Link Between COVID-19 and Diabetes

June 01, 2020 Posted in: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 is constantly evolving, some information may not be up to date. Stay informed by following information from your local officials and by visiting the CDC website.

As COVID-19 remains a public health concern, many people with chronic conditions may be wondering how this virus can impact their health, including those with diabetes. Discover how the virus caused by COVID-19 can potentially create severe symptoms in patients with unregulated blood sugar and steps you can take to reduce your risk.

Can Diabetes Increase Your Risk of Developing COVID-19?

Having either type 1 or type 2 diabetes will not increase your risk of developing the virus caused by COVID-19. However, it can increase your risk of developing severe complications should you contract the virus. This occurs in people with poorly managed diabetes who frequently experience fluctuations in their blood sugar levels, especially if they are 65 or older or have other conditions, such as heart disease. People who maintain a healthy lifestyle are more likely to have milder symptoms.

The Connection Between Diabetic Ketoacidosis and COVID-19

Any sort of viral infection can increase the risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) for someone with diabetes, but it proves to be a more substantial possibility specifically for people with type 1 diabetes. DKA creates an environment in the body that makes it hard to manage sepsis, a severe complication of COVID-19. The American Diabetes Association recommends checking for ketones if your blood sugar levels are measuring as “high” more than two times in a row.

Tips for Managing COVID-19 and Diabetes

If you have diabetes and notice symptoms of COVID-19, immediately schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. They’ll give you advice for handling symptoms while managing your glucose levels, including:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. If your stomach is upset, try taking small sips frequently instead of several large gulps at one time.
  • Measure your blood sugar often. Acetaminophen can impact continuous glucose monitor (CGM) results, so ask your doctor about what type of fever reducer would work best for you.
  • Keep all supplies clean. Always wash your hands before sticking your finger, and disinfect high-traffic surfaces.

If you have diabetes and notice any severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath, sudden confusion, or chest pain, call 911 and seek emergency medical care. Locate your nearest St. Joseph Health emergency room so you know where to go. If possible, take all diabetes equipment, including a CGM, insulin and insulin pumps, and test strips to make the transition to the hospital smoother.

American Diabetes Association | How COVID-19 Impacts People with Diabetes
AJMC | COVID-19 Risk Demonstrates Importance of Keeping Diabetes Under Control
Medscape | Checklist to Manage Hyperglycemia, DKA in Severe COVID-19
Global Sepsis Alliance | Update: Can COVID-19 Cause Sepsis? Explaining the Relationship Between the Coronavirus Disease and Sepsis

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