Is there a link between COVID-19 and diabetes?

Not long ago, a study carried out suggested that young people who have had COVID-19 in the US tend to receive a diabetes diagnosis more than those who have never been infected.

The possible reasons for causality between diabetes and COVID-19 are inflammation from the virus leading to insulin resistance, coronavirus getting into insulin-producing cells or making our immune systems raid these cells and the waverings in medical care and changes to diet and exercise routine caused by lockdown restrictions which could also be a factor.

Another study using an older age group found the same patterns in their analysis of over four million patients. Most of the diabetes cases in this study were type 2.

Another German study made use of the medical records of more than eight million patients with COVID who were more likely to subsequently be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The different types of diabetes have one thing in common. This is their ability to affect a body’s generation or reaction to the hormone insulin. Insulin regulates the quantity of sugar in the blood. Hence, if a sufficient quantity of insulin is not generated,  or it’s not working properly, the human blood sugar goes up.

Of all diabetes, Type 2 diabetes is the most common type. It is often characterized by insulin resistance. People who have type 2 diabetes are still producing insulin, but the insulin isn’t working properly. Treatments differ and include medication, shifts in diet, and an increase in physical activity.

Type 1 diabetes, the most common diabetes, often, but not always, comes on in childhood or adolescence. The body stops producing insulin altogether. Individuals who have type 1 diabetes would take injections or infusions of insulin for the rest of their lives.

Many plausible theories have been formulated about how COVID might result in diabetes, but none have been proven. One possibility is that inflammation induced by the virus could bring about insulin resistance, which is a feature of type 2 diabetes.

Another likelihood relates to ACE2 which is a protein found on the surface of cells, that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) attaches to. Some studies have indicated that the coronavirus can enter and infect insulin-producing cells via ACE2, which might prompt the cells to die or change how they work. This could mean people would not be able to produce enough insulin, leading to diabetes

Another theory assumes that the immune system is triggered by something else which then accidentally attacks insulin-producing cells. It could be that COVID is causing some people’s immune systems to do just this.

Even though it seems people who have had COVID are more likely to develop diabetes, and there are plausible theories to explain this, this doesn’t necessarily imply that COVID causes diabetes.

It could be that COVID is leading to a temporary rise in blood sugar that then resolves over time. A US study which was carried out on 594 people newly diagnosed with diabetes while hospitalized with COVID established that blood sugar levels often returned to normal after the patient has been discharged from the hospital, without treatment.

Another thing to understand is the drug used in treating coronavirus. It is common knowledge that dexamethasone – a steroid used to treat people with severe COVID – temporarily causes rises in blood sugar.

Finally, rising levels of diabetes could also indicate an impact of pandemic restrictions or changed behavior because of infection or fear of infection, including tardy medical care and changes in diet and physical activity levels.

Irrespective of the final results from ongoing research on whether coronavirus causes diabetes, it is important that every individual plays his or her role by keeping safe and carrying out safety measures even as restrictions have been lifted.

Remember to always request for covid home test London or covid testing London if the need arises.

Test result provided by PHE/CQC approved UKAS accredited, ISO 15189 2012 Laboratory.
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