While diabetes is a dangerous co-morbid condition which hampers one’s immune strength to fight Covid-19, the recent phenomenon of healthy individuals developing diabetes after Covid recovery has caused a concern among the medical fraternity globally.
As doctors are still trying to understand the complication, renowned diabetologist Dr V Mohan, Chairman of Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, in a discussion with Omjasvin MD, throws some light on this recent phenomenon.
Here’s an excerpt:
Q: Many people with no history of diabetes are developing it for the first time after Covid recovery. Why is this happening?
A: Antiviral drugs, stress, fear and anxiety of hospitalisation, and pneumonia can all lead to diabetes. Firstly, even during the lockdown, there was an increased predisposition to diabetes. This is because of stress, depression and anxiety. Secondly, some of the medicines like steroids, such as dexamethasone, used for Covid treatment are highly diabetologic. I have seen many patients turn out to have steroid-induced diabetes, and it takes weeks or months for their sugar levels to settle down. Some who are already on the verge of getting diabetes are prone to getting it.
Q: Does this hamper one’s immunity strength post recovery?
A: Yes, indeed. If one develops diabetes, the high blood sugar levels can impair one’s immunity. If the diabetes is well controlled, immunity can be restored.
Q: How vulnerable are such people towards a Covid-19 re-infection?
A: The theory of second infection still remains unproven. A few cases of second infection have been demonstrated but second time positivity can also happen because of fragments of virus from previous infection being picked up by the sensitive RT-PCR test.
Q: When the pre-existing diabetes is known to be dangerous during Covid, how threatening is developing it post recovery?
A: It is desirable to prevent diabetes. If the steroid dose is reduced and treated properly, the particular cause may be eliminated.
Q: Should there be larger observations and studies on this subject?
A: Definitely. We need more data on how many cases of steroid induced diabetes are there, what happens to the patients in the long term, whether or not it goes away, and do they develop diabetes complications.
Q: What lifestyle precautions can one take in such a case?
A: Diet and exercise is very important. Reducing carbohydrates and intake of proteins is also essential. Food like fish, chicken, egg whites, bengal gram, tofu, paneer, green leafy vegetables, etc., can be consumed. Regular exercise also improves immunity and prevents undesired outcomes.