Diabetes Mellitus in the Era of COVID-19

11 April 2020


By now, everyone is most probably aware of the Novel Coronavirus 2019, the COVID-19, which has originated in China and has spread worldwide, currently infecting more than a million and a half individual. Patients with diabetes mellitus, types I and II, also characterized by chronic hyperglycemia, are at risk of getting infected. Here are some of the answers to commonly asked questions by patients with diabetes. 

Q: Are patients with diabetes mellitus at greater risk for getting infected with Coronavirus?

A: Patients’ risk of getting infected with Coronavirus is just the same as any other individual.  

Q: How do patients with diabetes mellitus get infected?

A: Since Coronavirus is  easily transmitted, these patients can easily get infected, just like other persons, after being in close contact with an infected patient, through  contaminated air-droplets that come out of infected persons when talking, coughing or sneezing.

Q: How severe would the infection be in patients with diabetes?

A: Based on different studies, patients with diabetes were classified as high risk, which are more likely to develop serious complications and death if infected with Coronavirus, especially if their blood sugar was not controlled.  In China, mortality seems threefold higher in such patients.

Q: What would explain the increased risk of complications among patients with diabetes?

A: These patients, especially those with poor glycemic control, are at a higher risk of infections, because of their impaired immune-response reaction to infections. Furthermore, type 2 diabetes patients tend to be obese and this is another risk factor for a severe infection.

Q: What should patients with diabetes do in case they were infected with Coronavirus?

A: Patients should contact their physicians in case of worsening of symptoms such as troubled breathing, and should maintain optimal control of blood sugar. This necessitates more frequent glucose monitoring and some change in medications to get adequate control of their blood sugar.

Q: What are some additional tips for patients with diabetes mellitus?

A: Patients should practice social distancing and need to get enough supplies of medications while staying home. They should eat healthy and stick to diabetic diet and do exercise at home.