Why is COVID-19 inflicting diabetes in some individuals? This is what medical doctors say

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Diabetes is a serious comorbidity for the coronavirus and has been associated with several complications, including severity, increased oxygen needs, extended recovery times, and to some extent mortality. For many, however, the fight against COVID-19 is leading to an entirely new diagnosis of diabetes, or COVID diabetes as it is now called.

A report recently published in the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism also warns that the emergence of new diabetes is increasingly becoming a post-COVID complication and a new fear to be feared.

But what drives the ascent? Is it COVID or underlying risk factors? We asked doctors to weigh the same …

Can COVID-19 cause a complication like diabetes?


From the heart to the digestive system, there has been plenty of evidence of how worrying a battle with COVID-19 could be. Recent studies have also shown that the SARS-COV-2 virus can launch a devastating attack on the pancreas, affecting cells that produce and regulate insulin, thereby causing diabetes.

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Doctors now also fear that the soaring blood sugar levels in no history of COVID cases will make the disease even more difficult to treat, leaving patients with far more health repercussions than they were previously diagnosed with.

“There are various mechanisms that can trigger high blood sugar levels after COVID-19. For one thing, it has been shown that the COVID-19 virus directly affects the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, which can lead to persistent diabetes, ”shares Dr. Shavial Chandalia. mit, Senior Physician, Department of Diabetology and Endocrinology, Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai.

The obvious similarities between COVID-19 and diabetes, also a vascular disease both caused by inflammation, could also be a serious risk factor allowing the virus to attack the lungs and pancreas, fueling diabetes as a post-COVID complication could go to Dr. Sunil Kumar Mishra, Director, Endocrinology and Diabetology, Medanta.

Some, like Dr. Arbinder Singal, MBBS (gold medalist), DNB, M. Ch (AIIMS, gold medalist), CEO and co-founder of Fitterfly Healthtech, also believe that “intense stressors” such as cytokine-induced inflammation may be a likely reason why hyperglycemia is triggered in patients who are on the way to recovery.

ALSO READ: Digestive Symptoms After COVID That Should Not Be Ignored After Recovery

New diabetes adds additional risk to hospital stays and the severity of COVID

Infamous as the diabetes capital of the world, India is also seeing early onset of diagnosis, typically a decade ahead of the global average. The problem fueled by COVID-19 is also adding to the crisis as doctors see both young and old patients with symptoms and signs of hyperglycemia.

While the number of COVID diabetes cases has increased randomly, those who have had moderate or severe cases and have been on steroid therapies are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according to doctors. The big factor? Serious complications and steroid use.

“Diabetes is, so to speak, a heavily affected disease in our country, and we are definitely seeing an increase due to the previously high case numbers and hospital admissions in recent months. The incidence rate is definitely high. In terms of treatment, we’ve seen that. ”In some cases of moderate to severe COVID, steroid use could potentially be the trigger for this problem. Certain steroids, especially when given in high doses, can be diabetogenic and bring about certain undesirable changes that could cause diabetes.

Steroids, which are primarily used to help patients with oxygen deprivation problems and respiratory complications, have been the subject of controversy over indiscriminate and excessive use. Well, as doctors say, those who are given steroids or who continue to use the steroids for weeks after recovery may be at greatest risk for racing sugar levels.

Dr. Chandalia and Dr. Mishra also emphasize that hyperglycemia is an added risk with steroid use and must be viewed as a major warning sign before the same is administered. The harm, or the diagnosis of diabetes, can be temporary or permanent enough to cause problems.

Undiagnosed diabetes, poor awareness increases the risks


Dr. Mishra, who recently treated some acute cases of post-COVID hypoglycemia, also believes the bigger problem lies more in the undiagnosed cases than in newly-induced COVID diabetes, which the doctor says is at higher risk of COVID complications later on on.

“There have been cases of hospital hyperglycemia, but our observations show that the risk of accidental illness is higher for those who have an obvious family history, are prediabetic, or are simply unaware,” says Dr. Mishra and adds that over 50% of diabetes cases in India go unnoticed or are not well diagnosed.

Prediabetes is also a huge risk factor that needs to be considered. The additional use of steroids and COVID complications could put them at risk of abnormally high sugar levels or lead them to permanent diabetes. For those who are “borderline” or have stable control, insulin sensitivity could get much worse.

Pandemic sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for diabetes

Dr. Singhal believes the COVID-19 pandemic has derailed glycemic control very poorly for people, even those with no history, and agrees with Dr. Mishra too.

From lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating habits, and inconsistent focus, to health screenings and preventive measures, all of these factors have acted as major risks for blood sugar surges, which in turn has turned many into prediabetes or diabetic without being primarily aware. “The number of young people suffering from diabetes has also increased in the West,” says Dr. Mishra, who believes that many of the cases have simply been made worse by COVID-19.

Doctors also add that the risk of COVID-induced diabetes is greater for those who are already at risk of sedentary lifestyles, obesity, high BMI, and PCOS and therefore need to have a review.

Preventive medical checkups and monitoring of sugar levels are vital

While doctors in India see many cases of diabetes, one of the biggest problems could be a bleak ignorance of symptoms, predisposition, and diabetes risk.

One of the most important things that Dr. Mishra and Dr. Chandalia advise patients to invest in a blood glucose meter – especially after the age of 35, with or without a risk of COVID.

Dr. Chandalia adds that with many new COVID cases attributed to COVID-19, “If a COVID patient continues to take steroids, frequent measurements and monitoring are definitely a way of keeping your health under control and knowing when You need to search “. Help.”

Dr. Mishra also claims that monitoring glucose levels is the way to control the condition. “For people with obesity, PCOS, family history, we recommend starting exams earlier than the recommended age,” he adds.

What warning signs and symptoms to look out for?


Fasting levels above 250-300 should be a cause for concern and require a doctor’s attention. In diabetes, however, many symptoms at the primary level can go unnoticed or appear late. Nonetheless, it is imperative that patients look out for critical signs of concern such as:

-Excessive thirst

-Too much hungry

– Frequent urination

-Fatigue

– Inexplicable weight loss.

Doctors also advise patients not to take diabetes lightly, even when they are not experiencing symptoms. If you have any of the listed risk factors, have a family history, or use steroids, get evaluated and follow recommended treatment.

Aside from the need for checkups, doctors also remind you of the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, BMI, timely checkups, a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy diet to reduce risk factors and manage the condition.