The coronavirus has proven to be a deadly foe, especially for people with certain pre-existing conditions. Since early in 2020, medical professionals have cautioned that individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes should be considered part of the vulnerable population. More than 8% of the U.S. population has a diabetes diagnosis, which means 26.9 million people are at increased risk should they contract the coronavirus.
- Individuals with either type of diabetes are at higher risk of complications than the general population.
- The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines have been proven safe and effective for people with diabetes.
- Telehealth and online medical suppliers make it possible for people with diabetes to monitor and control their blood sugar despite the pandemic.
The good news is, understanding COVID-19 risks can keep people with diabetes safe. As diabetic medical equipment providers, we’ve created this guide to explain how the coronavirus affects diabetic patients and how to avoid infection.
Does Diabetes Make You More Vulnerable to the Coronavirus Disease?
Yes, diabetes makes individuals more vulnerable should they develop COVD-19. In fact, the presence of diabetes is a significant indicator of whether a patient will recover.
In the U.S., diabetes was a factor in approximately half of the COVID-19 deaths in individuals under 65. Additionally, about 40% of all COVID patients have diabetes as an underlying medical condition.
These numbers suggest that diabetic individuals are more likely to contract the coronavirus, but this is not so. COVID-19 is an especially dangerous illness because infected individuals may never manifest symptoms, meaning they never seek treatment or testing. Since testing is not widespread in the U.S., it’s impossible to know how many people have actually been infected.
What we can see, however, is how many people were hospitalized with severe complications. The risk of these complications increases with underlying conditions. Because diabetes is a common underlying condition in the U.S., we see more COVID-19 patients with this illness.
So what are the exact ways people with diabetes are more vulnerable? Both type 1 and 2 patients must contend with the following:
- Immune system deficiencies
- Fragile blood vessels
- Nerve and organ damage
Additionally, individuals with type 2 diabetes have higher instances of obesity, which is also considered an underlying condition and has its own complications to worry about.
How Does COVID-19 Impact People With Diabetes?
Diabetes can make it difficult for the body to fight off diseases, including the coronavirus. For example, fluctuating glucose levels can interfere with white blood cells, which are our frontline defense against illness.
Additionally, diabetes causes inflammation. When coronavirus enters the body, systems may become further inflamed as an immune response.
Uncontrolled diabetes can also damage the nervous system and organs, leaving the body especially vulnerable to a viral attack. To make matters worse, the coronavirus is shown to attack many of the same organ systems damaged by diabetes:
Obesity, while not caused by diabetes, is often deeply connected with the condition. Individuals with both diabetes and obesity face additional complications due to blood vessel disease and poorer lung function.
Does Research Show That the COVID-19 Vaccine Will Work for People With Diabetes?
Yes, research shows that the vaccines currently available, from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech, are effective and safe for people with diabetes. In fact, due to the risks associated with COVID-19, medical professionals recommend people with diabetes get vaccinated as soon as possible. Many states are prioritizing vulnerable populations to comply with this recommendation.
Both manufacturers included people with diabetes in their trials, including individuals with gestational, type 1, and type 2 diabetes. Diabetic participants made up a significant percentage of the trials, ensuring that adequate data were collected. Individuals with diabetes had the same outcomes as those without; the vaccine was not only effective but didn’t present any dangers as a result of the medical condition.
What Steps Should People With Diabetes Take To Protect Themselves?
If you have diabetes, you must treat the pandemic as a serious danger and do your best to protect yourself. Unfortunately, there’s a great deal of misinformation circulating by word of mouth and social media. How can you tell facts from fiction?
The number one rule is to research for yourself. If you hear a claim, do an internet search to see what the medical experts say.
You also want to check the sources. Many memes are making their way around Facebook that make unsubstantiated claims, but reference supposed “experts.” You can check these experts’ validity by researching the organization they are associated with and looking at their professional credentials.
If you’re ever confused about COVID recommendations, you can also reference these government agencies and health organizations for reliable, peer-reviewed information:
- Center for Disease Control
- World Health Organization
- John Hopkins University
Now that we’ve discussed misinformation, let’s talk about the verified techniques that can help you avoid contracting COVID-19.
Follow Social Distancing Guidelines
The CDC recommends staying at least 6 feet away from others when out in public. This is due to the distance the virus can travel on a cough or sneeze. To reduce community spread, individuals are also encouraged to avoid congregating in large groups or within close proximity to people who aren’t within their immediate household.
Additionally, individuals should wear masks that securely fit their faces and cover the nose and mouth. Masks are useful in preventing the virus from projecting during a cough or sneeze and protecting individuals from breathing the virus to a lesser degree. When everyone wears a mask, the effects are multiplied, creating stronger protections for the community.
The coronavirus can survive on your hands, so it’s essential to wash your hands frequently, especially before you eat or touch your face. To ensure the virus is eliminated, use hot water and soap, and vigorously scrub for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to clean the backs of your hands and between your fingers, two areas that are often missed during hand washing.
Continue With Diabetic Treatment
One of the most important things you can do as a person with diabetes is to continue your treatment. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to its own complications, which can land you in the hospital at an extremely dangerous time.
Understandably, it can be challenging to set up regular appointments with your doctor or obtain test strips and other supplies while in quarantine. The good news is, the medical community is adapting. Many doctor’s offices offer telemedicine, allowing patients to meet with their doctors via video call. This limits contact, allowing everyone to stay safer.
Additionally, there are online diabetic supply sources, such as MedEnvios Healthcare. You can order a continuous glucose monitor or manual glucose meter and have it delivered directly to your door. Knowing your blood sugar levels is a key part of controlling diabetes, so don’t hesitate to get the tools you need.
MedEnvios Healthcare is proud to provide customers with high-quality diabetic supplies. Our online shop is easy to navigate, and delivery is available all over the U.S. To see our selection or to learn more, visit our MedEnvios website.
Featured Image: Jerome-Cronenberger / Shutterstock