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Listen Up Louisiana: Diabetes and COVID-19

  • Category: Coronavirus
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
Listen Up Louisiana: Diabetes and COVID-19

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 glucose quickly
  • 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.