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New Diabetes Diagnosis? COVID Could Be to Blame

New Diabetes Diagnosis? COVID Could Be to Blame

More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, experts continue to learn more about all the ways the virus can affect the body. Recent research found that people who have had a COVID-19 infection are 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes in the following year, and how severe the case was doesn’t seem to play a major factor.

The severity of a COVID infection is different for every individual and could differ based on pre-existing health conditions, vaccination status and overall health. The study found that a diagnosis of new-onset diabetes in those who have had COVID-19 was significant across the board -- in patients who were hospitalized, non-hospitalized, and those who required intensive care treatment. The risk of diabetes was higher for individuals who experienced more severe forms of COVID-19, but the increased risk was also found in patients with milder cases.

Most patients in the study developed Type 2 diabetes after recovering from COVID-19. Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed in adults and most often requires medications to help the body manage its insulin more effectively along with diet, exercise and regular blood sugar monitoring. (Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children and young adults. The body doesn’t produce insulin and requires regular insulin injections.)

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can be mild during the early stages and include frequent urination, increased thirst, fatigue, blurred vision, extreme hunger, wounds that are slow to heal, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet. In some cases, there are no symptoms at all.

It is important to note that there is no solid evidence yet that COVID-19 causes diabetes, but there is a definitive link between the two health conditions. More research needs to be done in determining why COVID diagnoses are leading to such large numbers of new-onset diabetes cases, but early theories suggest that COVID-19 may cause damage to the pancreas, leading to issues with the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, talk to your doctor about screening for diabetes. Without treatment, Type 2 diabetes can lead to severe complications including heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, eye disease or vision loss, kidney disease, and sexual problems in both men and women.