The COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly hard on many people. In the United States alone, 560,000 people have died from this terrible disease so far over the past 13 months. This figure is going to continue to rise, even though some of the most vulnerable people have been vaccinated. Even some vaccinated people are still at risk, because even the best vaccines are only about 95% effective. This has meant that a lot of people have to do end-of-life planning with the pandemic.
Some groups are at a higher risk than others. People with diabetes are among the most vulnerable population groups.
How significant are the risks of having severe Covid-19 complications if you have diabetes? The problems are a lot more serious than you might expect. In October, a study published by The Lancet showed that around 30% of all COVID-19 deaths occurred with patients suffering from diabetes.
Unfortunately, identifying the exact risk factors for people with diabetes is not easy. However, there are some probable reasons that people with this condition are at a greater risk of hospitalization or death after contracting COVID-19.
What are some of the likely reasons that diabetic patients have worse outcomes after getting COVID-19?
Experts are still debating the exact reasons that people with diabetes have a poor prognosis after getting COVID-19. However, there are some reasons that seem to make sense, which is why it is important for diabetic patients to manage their condition by taking the right precautions, such as using a blood sugar meter. Some of these risks are discussed below.
Weakened immune system
People with diabetes tend to have weaker immune systems than the general population. The exact reasons that diabetes impacts the immune system are not entirely known. However, it is believed that hyperglycemia in people with diabetes is a major reason for dysfunction in the immune system.
This is probably the single biggest reason that people with diabetes are at a greater risk of severe cases of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a novel virus, which is why it has become such a serious problem. Our immune systems don’t recognize COVID-19 viruses as a threat, because they have not encountered them before. As a result, people need a very strong immune system to quickly adapt and start creating antibodies and T-cells to respond to the virus.
Since people with diabetes tend to have weaker immune systems, they are going to have a harder time with this. Their immune systems are going to respond more slowly and might not be able to fight off the virus before the infection becomes severe.
People with cardiovascular problems are also at a greater risk of having serious complications from COVID-19. COVID-19 can cause blood clots and a number of other issues that lead to cardiovascular complications.
Diabetes also creates strain on your heart. This means that diabetic patients will have two different health issues simultaneously causing heart damage. They will have a greater risk of developing heart complications than people who only suffered from one at a time.
Stress problems are highly intertwined with complications from diabetes. Stress can actually be an important precursor for diabetes. Many patients with a genetic predisposition to the disease and weight problems that increase their risk might not develop it until highly stressful events act as a catalyst. It is also believed that stress can exacerbate the condition of diabetes as well.
COVID-19 has obviously been a very stressful time for people all over the world. People are constantly worried about contracting the disease. They are also unable to manage their stress appropriately by getting personal contact with others. Additionally, they might try to manage their stress through alcohol and other substances, which can make it a lot worse, especially for patients trying to manage diabetes. The pandemic has also heightened peoples stress about economic problems, since many employers had to shut down.
All of these issues have put people with diabetes at a greater risk, due to the extra stress that they are experiencing. It is an indirect problem that the pandemic has created for diabetics.