Long-Term COVID-19 Effects Associated With Diabetes

One year later, and we still don’t know nearly enough about the long-term effects of COVID-19 or why they affect some patients more than others. What we do know is that many people will experience permanent or long-term heart and lung damage after developing — and recovering from — the disease. Some patients even experience a second bout of symptoms post-recovery. Now, studies seem to suggest a link between long-term symptoms of COVID-19 and diabetes.

At least 14 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations coincide with diabetes. 

Dr. Yogish Kudva said, “So when the immune system is not working as well and tends to work against the insulin-making cells, even when the sugar is normal, you can diagnose this with certain tests, such as antibody tests. And if in such individuals there is an illness, that can worsen the sugar in these people. So that could be an explanation for why Type 1 diabetes might be diagnosed after COVID-19 — that these are individuals who were already predisposed.”

These findings don’t prove a connection between COVID-19 and the onset of new diabetes. It’s possible the disease might expedite the development of prediabetes or diabetes, or even that a new sedentary lifestyle due to social distancing and/or quarantine could have had the same result. 

Kudva added, “This individual is predisposed to abnormal glucose characteristics, abnormal glucose regulation, and then severe COVID happens. That’s going to accelerate the progression from this state toward a more uncontrolled state.”

For now, it’s more important to recognize that having diabetes puts a patient at increased risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19. Those who have diabetes should be vigilant about following CDC guidelines, including using masks to complement social distancing and reduce the risk of catching the coronavirus. 

Diabetics should also use this time to improve diet, exercise, and reduce stress as much as is possible under the circumstances.

What Affects Your Blood Sugar Level?

It’s important to find a diabetic educator when you have diabetes because most people will fail to control the disease without one. Checking blood sugar, exercising, and eating right are all ways of life for a person diagnosed with diabetes. And knowing your blood sugar allows you to determine how much of those things you should be doing and adjust your current regimen to be more efficient — making you healthier in the long-term.

But there are a number of factors that affect diabetes — and you might not even know about some of them!

For example, when you’re sick. An illness could cause your body to flood with hormones that increase your blood sugar. That means you can eat right and still have a problem. The exact same thing can occur if you’re stressed. Death in the family? Divorce? New child? You might expect some variations in blood sugar that have nothing to do with your overall health. But because failing to maintain diabetes can be stressful all by itself, this can create a cyclical effect that’s hard to overcome. 

You want to do your best to avoid these hormones flooding your body, and part of that equation is getting enough sleep every night — because sleep helps regulate and maintain proper hormone levels throughout your body. Not getting enough sleep? Your blood sugar might go up. When you wake up, you might consider avoiding the cup of java — because some individuals experience high blood sugar soon after consuming caffeine. 

The “dawn phenomenon” means that your blood sugar is higher than expected even after a night time of fasting. This is because your body doesn’t release the insulin it needs while you’re sleeping. If you experience the dawn phenomenon, consult your doctor!

When taking insulin, these three factors play a key role in its effectiveness: timing, dosing, and expiration date. Insulin not working as expected? Ask your doctor why.

Promoting Oral Hygiene During Coronavirus Pandemic

Diabetes and other underlying conditions like heart disease increase the risk of serious health complications from COVID-19. We’ve known this from the beginning. Those who have underlying health conditions but recover still run the risk of serious long-term complications like damaged lungs. Unfortunately, poor dental hygiene can exacerbate diabetes — making it even more dangerous to become infected with coronavirus. How is oral hygiene related to overall health?

The foods we consume are normally converted into sugar — and energy, subsequently — but diabetes usually eliminates or reduces the body’s ability to perform this operation. High blood sugar can result in a variety of health problems, including nerve and organ damage. It can also lead to tooth decay. Did you know that one in five cases of tooth extraction are due to uncontrolled diabetes?

If you have diabetes, you should be sure to maintain an acute awareness of common symptoms of oral diseases. You might notice that the flavor or taste of foods changes over time. Notice a lingering bad taste? Check with your dentist. Another oral health problem that becomes more common with diabetes is “thrush,” or a yeast infection in the mouth. It often presents on the tongue and cheeks as painful, blotchy white and red sores. Dry mouth and gum disease are also associated with diabetes. 

What can you do to promote better oral health at home? Brush at least twice a day or after meals. Floss at least once a day or after meals. Be careful not to use mouthwash unless your dentist has prescribed it to reduce or eliminate symptoms of an underlying oral health problem — as using mouthwash too regularly can lead to one! Speaking of the dentist, you should try to visit for a routine oral examination at least once every six months. If your teeth are bothering you, schedule a visit before your routine checkup!

Failure to conduct routine oral hygiene can also result in a nasty cycle of health problems, wherein leaving one unchecked either causes or worsens another. That’s because poor oral hygiene can cause additional health problems associated with diabetes. Many of these are autoimmune disorders. Good nutrition, exercise, and proper hygiene must be maintained to reduce the risk of these issues — especially if you have diabetes.

These health problems include arthritis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, hepatitis C, HIV and AIDS, and osteoporosis. Coincidentally, many of these health problems are included on the long list of underlying conditions that make COVID-19 more deadly. Be careful! If you suspect you could have any of these health problems, speak with a doctor immediately. 

Additionally, certain medications can affect your ability to provide yourself with proper oral hygiene. Medications like decongestants, painkillers, diuretics, antidepressants, and antihistamines are all associated with dry mouth — and that can make it easier for bad bacteria to invade your mouth, causing a horrible cascade of other terrifying health conditions that could increase the adverse effects of diabetes and reduce lifespan substantially.

Everything We Know About The Relationship Between COVID-19 And Diabetes

From the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, researchers and scientists have been certain that the resulting disease, COVID-19, could be far more dangerous to patients with underlying conditions like heart disease or diabetes. The relationship between COVID-19 and diabetes is becoming clearer with each passing day — and what we now know is cause for concern. It appears that COVID-19 might actually cause diabetes.

Diabetics who have Type-1 diabetes have trouble creating insulin because an immune response terminates the cells responsible for making it. This process usually occurs in the pancreas. That’s why some people have to inject insulin themselves. 

Monash University Metabolic disease specialist Paul Zimmet said, “Diabetes is dynamite if you get COVID-19.” But there’s a reason why: “Diabetes itself is a pandemic just like the COVID-19 pandemic. The two pandemics could be clashing.”

Zimmet believes COVID-19 actually might be a diabetes trigger, causing the condition in otherwise healthy individuals.

It wouldn’t be a huge shock if this were the case.

That’s because Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is already considered a risk factor for diabetes (and could be considered a cousin of coronavirus). The same organs that help maintain your blood sugar use ACE2, a protein that SARS-CoV-2 (the strain of coronavirus responsible for this pandemic) to override cells. A new study suggests that this relationship could prove disastrous.

Zimmet said, “In science, sometimes you have to start off with very small evidence to chase a hypothesis.”

Not everyone agrees.

University of Glasgow metabolic-disease researcher Naveed Sattar said, “We need to keep an eye on diabetes rates in those with prior COVID-19, and determine if rates go up and over expected levels.”

In other words, it’s too early to be making conclusions — and we need to keep an eye on what matters here and now, which is reducing the rate of infection for coronavirus while we protect those most at risk (including those who have diabetes already).

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