Diabetes increases Covid risks, take extra precautions: Doctors

Filed on November 14, 2020
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The doctor said the chances of a diabetic contracting Covid are "slightly higher" when compared to non-diabetics.

Diabetics have to take extra precautions to steer clear of Covid-19 as the symptoms are more severe among them, doctors have said on World Diabetes Day.

The main reason for this could be impaired immunity. “High glucose levels affect the patients’ immune system defences and some diabetic-related issues such as nerve damage and reduced blood flow increase the body’s vulnerability to infection,” said Dr Sarla Kumari, specialist physician and diabetologist at Canadian Specialist Hospital Dubai.

The doctor said the chances of a diabetic contracting Covid are “slightly higher” when compared to non-diabetics.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, 39 million people are currently living with diabetes in the Middle East and North Africa. It is estimated that by 2045, around 82 million people will have the condition.

In June, a top UAE official had said that about 40 per cent of those who died of Covid-19 in the country had diabetes.

“It is therefore imperative that we educate patients on diabetes self-management and comorbidities at this time,” said Dr Kumari. “With diabetes being reported as a risk factor for the severity of Covid-19, patients are being encouraged to take precautions to avoid contracting the virus, such as washing hands thoroughly and regularly; cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched frequently; and avoiding contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness.”

The doctor said that in case a diabetic feels he or she is developing Covid symptoms such as cold, flu and cough or fever, they need to isolate themselves, increase fluids intake, take a healthy and balanced diet and regularly monitor their blood sugar levels. “The patient must also get in touch with Covid infection teams to see if he or she needs hospitalisation.”

Stay active

She stressed that diabetics should stay physically active as it will not only keep them fit but also help them overcome anxiety and stress related to the pandemic.

“Due to the pandemic, people have become more used to sedentary life and that increases the risk for not only diabetics but for non-diabetics (in getting the disease).

“Therefore, everyone must take time out for some physical fitness to reduce chances of diabetes or diabetes-related complications,” added Dr Kumari.

Tips for diabetics to manage their condition

>Carbohydrates often have the biggest impact on your blood sugar levels. Learn about carbohydrate counting and portion sizes, make every meal well-balanced

>Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages

>Engage in daily exercise, but monitor your blood sugar levels regularly during and after exercise, especially if you take insulin or medications that lower blood sugar.

(As said by Dr Vikram Hundia – consultant endocrinologist at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai)

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