New data from the Louisiana Department of Health points to diabetes as
the top underlying condition (41%) among COVID-19 related deaths. The
data hits close to home in a state that ranks near the worst in the country,
with 14% of residents living with type 2 diabetes. Plus, there are over
1 million people statewide with pre-diabetes – enough to fill LSU’s
Tiger Stadium nearly 12.5 times.
While there is not enough data to show whether people with diabetes are
more likely to get COVID-19, they do have higher rates of serious complications
and death than people without diabetes. For people with diabetes whose
condition is well-managed, the risk of getting severely sick from COVID-19
is estimated to be about the same as the general population.
In general, those who don’t manage their diabetes well and experience
fluctuating blood sugars are at risk for a number of complications. Having
heart disease or other complications in addition to diabetes can further
increase the chance of getting seriously ill because the body’s
ability to fight off an infection is compromised.
COVID-19, like other viral infections, can also increase inflammation in
people with diabetes. Inflammation combined with above-target blood sugars
can contribute to more severe complications. Diabetics are also at risk
of developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which makes it hard to manage
fluid intake and electrolyte levels, an important part in managing sepsis.
Sepsis and septic shock are some of the more serious complications being
seen in some people with COVID-19.
While everyone should be taking precautionary measures during this time,
it is extremely important for those living with diabetes or those who
have close contact with someone with diabetes. Basic preventive measures
include washing your hands, avoiding touching your face as much as possible,
cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, and avoiding close
contact with those showing symptoms of a respiratory illness.
A few extra precautionary measures also include:
- Pay close attention to your blood glucose levels—any type of infection
can raise blood sugarlevels and increase your need for water
- Make sure you have enough medication and testing supplies to last for at
least a month, in caseof a quarantine or isolation situation. The same
goes for a supply of food, and the ability to correct a drop in blood
- Outside support is also essential. Make sure those around you are aware
of your condition and that you may require assistance if you become ill
- Be extra cautious about social distancing
- Be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19, like fever, shortness of breath,
dry cough, and fatigue
If you have symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.