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Uncontrolled diabetes makes fight against COVID-19 harder

ACCORDING to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), COVID-19 is mild with minimal flu symptoms in more than 80% of those who contract the virus.

However, in up to 15% of cases Covid-19 has been severe with about 5% of cases needing critical care. Inasmuch as the number of people needing critical care is lower, compared to the rest of the cases who get diagnosed with the virus, the IDF states that people with pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with COVID-19.

In an article published by the World Diabetes Federation recently, it is reported that people with poorly controlled diabetes are relatively more vulnerable to infections and have worse outcomes once infected. The article further states that people with long standing, poorly controlled diabetes, may have poor lung function and are more likely to have underlying kidney and heart disease.

“COVID-19 does affect many organ systems and any pre-existing disease places the individual with diabetes at risk. As the virus causes a microangiopathy initially from the lung and then with the release of cytokines, other organ systems are involved,” said specialist physician, Dr Adri Kok.

Kok further explained that the experience worldwide had been that high glucose levels definitely worsened the outcome, as well as the immune response to the virus, as corticosteroids will be used in treating the disease, this poses an additional risk factor.

“It is also clear that in COVID-19 infection, insulin resistance necessitates the use of more intensive insulin therapy and tight glucose control does impact on recovery from the viral infection,” she says.

“Healthy nutrition and exercise are known to boost the immune system, even in people with underlying conditions such as diabetes.

“Exercise is also recommended to help patients lower their blood glucose levels and help them achieve better control. People living with diabetes should eat a varied and balanced diet to keep their blood glucose levels stable in addition to taking their diabetes medication as prescribed by their doctor.”

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