According to a group of scientists, there is increasing evidence that Covid-19 could cause diabetes.
Doctors have seen increases in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in people infected with the virus.
Prof. Franceso Rubino from King’s College London calls for a comprehensive investigation into a possible connection between the diseases.
He and others have set up a registry that has received reports from more than 350 individual clinicians who suspect they have seen one or more cases of Covid-induced diabetes.
So what is diabetes, what is the difference between types 1 and 2, and what symptoms should you look out for?
Everything you need to know is here.
What is diabetes
Diabetes is a long-term health condition that causes a patient’s blood sugar levels to get too high.
Chronic illness affects how your body converts food into energy.
When we eat, the food is broken down into glucose and released into the bloodstream. When our blood sugar rises, a signal is sent to the pancreas to release insulin.
This acts like a key so that blood sugar can be let into the body’s cells to be used as energy.
However, if you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or doesn’t make enough, or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should.
This causes too much blood sugar to stay in the bloodstream, which over time can cause serious health problems, including heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
Around 3.9 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with the disease, according to 2019 figures. However, doctors believe there are thousands of others who have not been diagnosed.
What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin.
It is believed to be caused by an autoimmune reaction in which the body accidentally attacks itself.
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes can develop very quickly and are usually diagnosed in children, adolescents, and young adults.
Nobody knows how to prevent it. Patients need to take insulin every day to survive.
Type 2 diabetes is now the far more common version – around 90 percent of all adults with the disease in the UK have type 2 diabetes.
In type 2, the body cannot produce enough insulin or the body cells do not respond to it and cannot keep blood sugar at normal levels.
Symptoms appear gradually as the disease develops over many years. Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in adults, but increasingly in children and adolescents.
It can be prevented or delayed by adopting a healthy lifestyle – like losing weight, eating healthy, and being active.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, according to the NHS, include:
- I feel very thirsty
- Pee more often than usual, especially at night
- I am feeling very tired
- Weight loss and loss of muscle mass
- Itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
- Cuts or wounds that are slow to heal
- Blurred vision.
If you experience any of the main symptoms of diabetes, you should see your GP as soon as possible.
Type 1 diabetes can develop very quickly over weeks or even days, while many people have type 2 for years without realizing it.
How is Diabetes Treated?
There is still no cure for diabetes.
People diagnosed with Type 1 will need regular insulin injections for the rest of their lives.
Because Type 2 is a progressive disease, patients may need medication, which is usually in the form of tablets.
If you are diagnosed with the disease, you will need to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and get frequent blood tests to make sure your blood sugar levels remain balanced.