Diabetes and coronavirus: what are the risks and how to protect yourself?

According to the International Diabetes Federation , in Brazil more than 15 million adults (between 20 and 79 years old) suffer from this chronic disease, in its different types.

Despite being a condition that has no cure, if treated correctly, diabetes can be controlled and the patient can lead a normal life.

Even so, it is not possible to rule out the fact that, like any disorder, it can cause complications in other clinical conditions. As in the case of the new coronavirus , in which, because they have diabetes, many people fall into a risk group.


What is diabetes?

Diabetes is the term that encompasses a group of disorders of glucose metabolism – which are related to failures in the secretion and / or action of insulin. This condition may, in addition to causing glycemic alterations, have a connection with the involvement of organs and systems.

There are several types of diabetes. The most frequent are identified in the ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases) by the following codes:

  • E10: Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (type 1 diabetes);
  • E11: Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes);
  • E13: Other specified types of diabetes mellitus;
  • E23.2: Diabetes insipidus;
  • O24: Diabetes mellitus in pregnancy.

Why is diabetes a risk group for coronavirus?

Although there are different types of diabetes, according to the Brazilian Diabetes Society, this does not interfere with the worsening of the disease.

Thus, the complication that diabetes causes in Covid-19 cases is not linked to the mechanism of the disease, but to high blood sugar levels.

In addition, many people affected by the disease are part of other risk categories, such as the elderly, for example. So, because they fit into different groups, consequently, the vulnerability can be greater.

In this sense, in general, it is possible to say that people with diabetes who have a greater chance of progressing to more severe conditions of the disease are those:

  • With a long history of diabetes;
  • Poor metabolic control;
  • With concomitant diseases (such as hypertension);
  • Elderly (over 60 years).

So, according to doctors and specialists, when there is an infectious process in our body, naturally the glucose levels increase. Bringing greater risks to the body, especially if the infection is severe or still little known, such as the new coronavirus.

The specialists indicate that it is common for the person to be more thirsty, to feel a dry mouth and to eliminate a greater urinary volume, besides presenting vomiting or nausea . This, coupled with the symptoms of Covid-19, is what makes diabetic patients (as) often need more care and / or medical attention.

Does high blood glucose increase the risk of contracting Covid-19?

-Yeah . The way to contract Covid-19 is the same for all people, that is, it occurs through the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and eyes.

It can occur directly, from contact with an infected person, or indirectly through contaminated surfaces or objects – by touching them and bringing your hands to the mucous membranes.

However, people with high blood glucose – that is, uncontrolled diabetes – tend to have a weaker body, which may (among other problems) lower immunity, compromise blood circulation and increase the risk of infection.

So, the fact that the person has a pre-existing disease (such as diabetes, which alters glycemic indexes) does not increase the risk of infection. Only when the disease is not being treated correctly or is not controlled.

However, when present in a risk group, it is necessary to double the attention. Especially people who suffer from diabetes, a condition that can lead to low immunity – which could increase the risk of complications from the new coronavirus.

Who has diabetes will have more severe coronavirus?

Not necessarily those who have diabetes will have a serious case if they are infected with the new coronavirus. However, the risks are greater compared to the general population – it is estimated that, on average, it is 7% above the average.

One reason is due to the fact that people with diabetes are more likely to have low immunity problems, due to changes in the blood glucose level.

The other factor is directly related to these changes, as naturally any infection can cause an increase in blood glucose levels. So, when a patient infected with coronavirus has diabetes, there is a greater chance of having a severe condition.

What are the precautions and how to protect yourself?

As mentioned in the previous topic, the person with diabetes does not have a different form of contamination, as this occurs in the same way in all people.

However, those who suffer from this chronic disease are more likely to have vulnerability due to low immunity. Therefore, care needs to be intensified against Sars-Cov-2 (new coronavirus).

If you fall into this risk group, it is ideal to strictly follow the protection guidelines indicated by the WHO (World Health Organization):

  • Follow the preventive measures of contamination – wash your hands, clean surfaces and objects, maintain social distance;
  • Maintain a healthy routine – have a good diet, get enough sleep, stay active and avoid alcohol and tobacco;
  • Continue your treatment for diabetes – application of insulin, medications, etc;
  • Keep monitoring your exams – people with diabetes always need to keep track of blood glucose levels, so stay with this habit.

Following these guidelines is vital, considering that mortality rates have more significant rates for people who are in some risk group. So, if you fall into one, intensify your care to protect yourself.

The new coronavirus (Covid-19) is highly contagious, easily transmitted. So, if you are part of a risk group, double your care.

Do not forget to, in addition to protecting yourself against the virus, maintain the treatment of pre-existing conditions, as is the case with diabetes.

If you want more information on this and other health-related issues, keep following the Healthy Minute!