Diabetes and COVID-19 have been repeatedly linked. Here we look at what you can do to reduce your risk of type two diabetes
Having diabetes makes you no more likely to catch coronavirus than anyone else. But if you have diabetes, whether that’s type one or type two, you are at an increased risk of developing severe symptoms if you do.
According to Diabetes UK, among those who become so unwell with coronavirus that they need to go to hospital, the risk of dying is higher for people living with diabetes than for people without the condition.
The charity explains that being ill can make your blood sugar go all over the place. Your body tries to fight the illness by releasing stored glucose into your bloodstream to give you energy. But your body can’t produce enough or any insulin to cope with this, so your blood sugars rise.
Your body is working overtime to fight the illness, making it harder to manage your diabetes.
This means you’re more at risk of having serious blood sugar highs and lows, potentially leading to DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) or HHS (hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state).
So is there anything that you can do to help to reduce the risk of developing diabetes, and the increased risks it puts your body under during a global pandemic?
Firstly it’s important to remember that there are two very different types of diabetes.
Type one diabetes is a serious condition where your blood sugar level is too high because your body can’t make insulin. There is currently no known cure for type one diabetes.
Doctors are still unsure what causes type one diabetes, but they know that it has nothing to do with diet and exercise.
Type two diabetes is a serious condition where the insulin your pancreas makes can’t work properly or your pancreas can’t make enough insulin. This means your blood glucose levels keep rising.
There is no cure for type two diabetes, but some people are able to put their type two diabetes into remission. This means that your blood sugar levels are healthy and you don’t need to take diabetes medication any more. Remission can be life-changing.
There are several factors that can affect your risk of developing type two diabetes. Because the symptoms of type two diabetes are not always obvious, it’s really important to be aware of these risk factors. They can include your age, if you have a close family member with diabetes, your ethnicity, high blood pressure and being overweight.
Check My Health offers a diabetes risk test (£99), which can help to pinpoint any factors that put you at an increased risk of developing type two diabetes and can offer practical suggestions for ways to modify your lifestyle to decrease the risks.
Amelia Davies, Director of Clinical Services at Check My Heath, said: “A way we can reduce our risk of type two diabetes is reducing the amount of high sugar content drinks we consume every day. Try replacing some drinks with water and aim to drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day.
“Another tip is to reduce the amount of sugar you add to your coffee or tea. Slowly cut down over a period of weeks as suddenly removing it entirely can lead to sugar cravings.”