The longer scientists spend studying the COVID-19 pandemic, the more they seem to learn about the full impact of this virus and its potential to cause long-term side effects.
Now, new research shows a connection between COVID-19 and increased risk of diabetes. More specifically, those who had COVID-19 were shown to be at roughly a 40 percent higher risk of a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. They were also at increased risk of requiring medication to help manage their blood sugar levels.
Why might COVID-19 be associated with diabetes?
The increased risk of diabetes wasn’t just limited to those who experienced severe COVID symptoms. Rather, the heightened risk of diabetes affected patients who had mild COVID cases, as well.
Why the risk of diabetes jumped in those who have been infected with COVID is still unclear, but some experts believe that COVID-19 may damage the pancreas, causing issues with blood sugar control.
This happens because COVID-19 is thought to trigger an autoimmune response in some people, causing the body to attack itself, destroying cells in the pancreas that are vitally involved in insulin production.
Over time, this causes insulin resistance and inflammation in the pancreas. The end result is diabetes.
Common Signs of Diabetes After COVID-19 Infection
Common early signs of diabetes after COVID-19 infection include:
- Frequent urination
- Blurry vision
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increased thirst and hunger
If you’re experiencing any or all of these symptoms after having been infected with COVID-19, contact your doctor to be screened for diabetes.
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Can diabetes affect your eyes?
Yes. Diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of eye disease. The most common eye condition linked to diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, in which blood vessels in the eye begin to bleed, damaging the delicate structures of the eye, namely the retina and macula. This can result in extensive vision loss, including blindness.
Can diabetic retinopathy be prevented?
Yes. A person with diabetes can lower their risk of diabetic retinopathy by consistently maintaining their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol within healthy limits. This can be done through good diet and exercise habits, though some may also require medication.