Healthcare personnel discovered rather quickly during the pandemic that certain preexisting conditions increased the severity of COVID-19. One of those conditions is diabetes.
Those admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 and diabetes have a much higher mortality rate. They are more likely to end up on a ventilator and to spend a long time on it.
According to the CDC, data collected so far show that three-fourths of the people who have died from Covid-19 had at least one preexisting condition. Of those who died, 40 percent had diabetes. Half of the patients under the age of 65 who died from Covid-19 had diabetes.
The Relationship Between Diabetes and Covid-19
As the pandemic spreads, healthcare providers are learning new things about the virus and its relationship to diabetes. For example, it appears that having diabetes increases the chances of contracting the virus. However, as might be expected, among people with diabetes with COVID-19, those who have their diabetes under control, where blood sugars are at acceptable levels, have better outcomes than those with uncontrolled diabetes.
Healthcare providers are now also looking at the different types of diabetes and how this affects the severity of COVID-19. Are those with type 1 diabetes more at risk than type 2, or vice versa? The numbers show so far that those with type 1 diabetes are three times more likely to die from COVID-19, and those with type 2 twice as likely to succumb to the virus.
Much More to Learn
But healthcare providers still have a lot to learn about these diseases’ interaction, working to disentangle causes and effects.
For a long time, infections, whether viral or bacterial, can be more severe in people with diabetes because of the problems they have in processing glucose. Their immune systems are weaker, and their circulation is not as good. COVID-19 is no different in that respect.
But medical personnel still do not know how the comorbidities exactly exacerbate the infection. They have not determined whether COVID-19 is more severe because a person has these comorbidities or changes how the person becomes infected, increasing the viral load in people who have glucose that is not controlled.
Another problem is that both diabetes and COVID-19 target the same organ systems in the body. So, both diseases could be working together to make symptoms more severe. But this situation makes it harder to disentangle the cause and effect sequence involved.
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