How obesity and diabetes increase the risk of Covid-19 related complications.
At present, the COVID-19 pandemic is the most urgent global health crisis and the most serious threat to public health that we have ever seen. In light of the current clinical research evidence, the elderly and those with certain underlying diseases, especially diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity, are at greater risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19.
In addition to following the precautions issued by health authorities, it is recommended to maintain a healthy weight, have blood sugar under control and take immune-boosting foods. By doing so, serious complications due to infection will be reduced drastically.
Even though there is insufficient data to conclude whether individuals with diabetes and obesity are more prone to get infected with COVID-19, researchers have indicated that people with diabetes and obesity can develop severe complications or symptoms if infected with COVID-19.
Diabetes patients whose blood sugar levels are not in control are more likely to suffer severe symptoms, leading to prolonged hospitalisations and higher death rates. Moreover, the risk of health complications caused by COVID-19 in diabetic and obese patients increases proportionally to other pre-existing medical conditions like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and chronic kidney disease.
Diabetes & COVID-19 Disease
Diabetic patients who do not control their blood sugar levels are generally at risk for many complications related to diabetes. Developing a viral infection among diabetes patients who have uncontrolled blood sugar can have severe consequences as follows:
Higher blood sugar levels make your immune system weak, resulting in an inadequate immune response. As a result, viruses can spread rapidly and grow exponentially. Therefore, fighting against the virus becomes more difficult.
Additionally, COVID-19 can be serious for someone with diabetes-related complications or other comorbidities. For example, diabetes patients with viral infections experience elevated blood sugar due to body inflammation. Poor blood sugar control not only impairs your immunity response and fluid balance but also worsens existing comorbidity and diabetes complications. The COVID-19 complications are not dependent on the type of diabetes.
Obesity & COVID-19 Disease
Obesity is also linked to other health problems like diabetes, and cardiovascular disease increases the risk of developing COVID-19 disease-related serious symptoms and complications.
Obese people with extremely high BMI tend to have reduced lung volumes and restricted lung expansion. As a result, the risk of respiratory complications increases highly when they have a lung infection. In addition, numerous studies have demonstrated that severe obesity can lead to long-term hospitalisations and the need for intensive care.
Moreover, if severe obesity patients infected by COVID-19 infection are on mechanical ventilation, it becomes more challenging to manage the complications than general patients.
What care should diabetic and obese patients take during these COVID times?
The preventive measures commonly recommended by healthcare professionals such as:
- Wearing a face mask
- Frequently washing hands with soap and water
- Using hand sanitiser
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and face
- Maintaining social distancing
Following the above measures are indispensable for people having diabetes or obesity. Along with these suggestions, here are some additional tips:
Maintain ideal weight: if you are overweight, reduce it as soon as possible. Bariatric surgery is one of the fastest and effective ways to reduce weight. In addition, some studies have proven that prior bariatric surgery to covid infection can reduce its complications.
Keep your blood sugar levels under control: Uncontrolled diabetes patients exhibit a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 infections, so it is essential to maintain normal blood sugar levels and keep them under control all the time. Conversely, high or low blood sugar levels can result in complications if specialists do not monitor them regularly.
Maintain physical and mental health: Several ways are available to keep your body and mind active, especially during the pandemic. Regular exercise is recommended to maintain good health and get adequate sleep, eat a healthy diet with good portions, and reduce or manage stress.
Drink plenty of liquids: Dehydration is a potential risk that can cause elevated blood sugar levels, particularly during summer. So drinking sufficient water is essential to maintain good health.
Sources of carbohydrates and sugar must be readily available: Ensure the proper supply of food, especially starch and sugar, available at home all the time, to handle the situation if the blood sugar drops suddenly.
A sufficient supply of medication is essential: Since people with diabetes are at risk for illness from underlying conditions such as hypertension, adequate medications for them need to be in stock, especially if a self-quarantine is necessary.
Keep necessary contact details in hand: keep all relevant contact information like hospital phone numbers or doctor phone numbers accessible. For example, people with diabetes with COVID 19 who are in-home quarantine might need medical assistance suddenly.
If flu-like symptoms occur, seek immediate medical assistance: If you observe any flu-like signs, especially respiratory symptoms like difficulty breathing, cough, sore throat etc. Call for medical assistance immediately.
To know more information about how bariatric surgery can reduce the risk of COVID19 complications, consult Dr V Pareek, Consultant Bariatric Surgeon at Care Hospitals, Hyderabad.