As we approach one year of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists and researchers continue to learn more about the causes, effects, risk factors, and complications associated with the virus. This includes how COVID impacts people with diabetes.
While diabetes doesn’t make someone more or less likely to acquire the virus, it is now well established that diabetes significantly increases the risk of serious complications or death from COVID-19. Now, however, scientists are concerned not only about how COVID impacts those with diabetes, but whether COVID can cause diabetes.
The increased possibility of a negative outcome or serious complications from coronavirus for diabetes patients should come as no surprise. Studies have also concluded that patients with diabetes who get sick with COVID-19 typically have a more dire prognosis, most probably because of the concurring effect of multiple risk factors associated with diabetes.
New Study Explores How COVID Can Increase Odds Of Diabetes
But a study published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism in November 2020 is raising concerns that being infected with COVID-19 can increase a person’s chances of developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The study looked at the prevalence of new-onset diabetes in patients with COVID-19 in the U.S., China, and Italy. Of the 3,711 COVID-19 patients researchers looked at, 492 of them (14.4%) developed new cases of diabetes.
Scientists were already studying the link between viral infections and the development of type 1 diabetes well-before COVID-19 made its presence known around the world. Researchers are now investigating that link through the prism of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Experts have yet to definitively figure out how COVID-19 can trigger diabetes, but one theory is that SARS-CoV-2 alters or destroys or insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, possibly by binding to ACE2 receptors. A growing body of evidence suggests that the virus uses these receptors, found in the pancreas, kidneys, and intestines, to infect the body, possibly altering how the cells containing ACE2 receptors function.
This theory could potentially explain new cases of type 2 diabetes in COVID patients as well. Like type 1 diabetes, type 2 is caused by various factors, including genes and lifestyle. The condition usually starts with insulin resistance. As a result, the pancreas produces more and more insulin, eventually burning out those insulin-making beta cells.
Individuals With Diabetes Must Stay Vigilant Against COVID
As the world tries to combat the pandemic with vaccines and mitigation measures, it remains a potent force. Its impacts will be felt for years, well after face masks become relics of a past era. Until then, individuals with diabetes must remain extremely vigilant against acquiring the virus, given its disproportionately severe impact on them.
Effectively managing your diabetes is one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19. Accurate and frequent monitoring of glucose levels is an indispensable part of those efforts. Fortunately, advancements in glucose monitoring technology have made controlling your glucose levels easier than ever.
Traditional glucose monitoring involves pricking a finger multiple times a day to test blood samples, an inconvenient and uncomfortable burden. Now, Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) allows those with diabetes to avoid the finger-pricking through the use of a tested, approved, and easy-to-use transceiver device.
Contact us today to see if you qualify for CGM and access our guide to continuous glucose monitoring.