Almost a third of Covid deaths occur in diabetics, a recent study demonstrated. Anyone with the underlying health condition who falls ill with Covid is recommended by Dr Yun to discuss their their medication with their healthcare team. People taking SGLT-2 inhibitors, such as Forxiga, Invokana and Jardiance may be advised to stop taking their meds. “Sometimes people with severe COVID-19 are treated with a steroid called dexamethasone,” said Dr Yun.
He explained dexamethasone causes high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia), so it’s “essential” to tell the medical team about diabetes “right from the start”.
“They can monitor and control your blood sugar levels alongside treating the disease,” explained Dr Yun.
Diabetics who suffer from symptoms of coronavirus, who don’t need hospital treatment, are advised to “stay hydrated”.
Symptoms of Covid
- A new, continuous cough
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- A high temperature
- Sudden confusion (delirium)
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“If you think you might have COVID-19, it’s vital that you self-isolate and get tested as soon as possible,” said Dr Yun.
Diabetes UK stated that nearly four million people in the UK live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
While most diabetics “will only suffer mild symptoms” of Covid, said Dr Yun, “some are more likely to become seriously ill”.
He pointed out that people with a history of high HbA1c levels (a marker of high blood sugar) or diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease) “are more likely to need breathing support or end up in hospital from COVID-19”.
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What’s diabetic nephropathy?
Kidney damage caused by diabetes is known as diabetic nephropathy (i.e. kidney disease).
Nearly one in five people with diabetes will need treatment for diabetic nephropathy, added Diabetes UK.
High blood sugar levels damage blood vessels and filters in the kidneys, causing them to leak.
As a result, abnormal amounts of protein from the blood can leave the body via urine.
The earliest stages of kidney disease show no warning signs, which is why annual tests can keep on top of things.
As kidney disease progresses, noticeable symptoms might include:
- Swollen ankles, feet and hands
- Blood in your pee (urine)
- Feeling really tired
- Being short of breath
- Feeling sick
“You may be feeling like this because your kidneys are struggling to clear extra fluid and waste from your body,” explained the charity.
To reduce your risk of this diabetes complication, it’s important to keep blood sugar levels within your target range.
Other lifestyle guidance includes lowering blood pressure, not smoking, eating healthily and keeping active.
Diabetes can be easily overlooked in the beginning of the condition, so how do you know if you have it?
Physical symptoms would include increased thirst, frequent urination, and feeling very hungry.
The best way to determine if you have diabetes is to have a blood sample by a medical professional testing for the condition.
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