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Can COVID-19 Cause Diabetes?

Can COVID-19 Cause Diabetes?

The evidence continues to stack up that people who get COVID-19 and have diabetes are at a greater risk of severe illness and hospitalization. Now, researchers are closely following a link between severe COVID-19 infections and new cases of diabetes. A recent study found that more than 14% of patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and recovered were newly diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

Experts are not yet sure why or how a COVID infection could trigger diabetes, but they have some leads. The virus enters the cells in a host of organs like the pancreas, intestine and liver, all of which help maintain normal sugar metabolism. In some people, the virus may be attacking the cells that make insulin, damaging them enough to where they can’t make sufficient insulin. Doctors have also found that the symptoms in these COVID patients look like a mix of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

In the case of Type 2 diabetes, the virus could be speeding up the development of the disease for those with existing risk factors, such as prediabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. But, some of the new cases are in people who have no history of the disease and possibly no risk factors either. For now, experts continue to track this trend in a global registry, to see if diabetes associated with COVID-19 goes away after a patient recovers.

If you have recently had COVID-19, pay close attention to new symptoms like excessive urination, excessive thirst, blurry vision, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss. It’s also important to manage and improve underlying health conditions that may cause diabetes, including a healthy dose of physical activity. And of course, continue to follow COVID-19 precautions like mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing.

Shaun Spinks, MD
Baton Rouge General Physicians - Zachary 
(225) 327-1625