What Is The Link Between COVID and Diabetes?

Published on 
January 25, 2024
June 27, 2023
Virta Health
Virta Health
Virta Health

Are people with COVID more likely to get diabetes? Can COVID make diabetes worse?

Introduction

When California first locked down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Virta member Hector decided it was time to reverse his type 2 diabetes. Given what we now know about the links between COVID and diabetes, Hector's timing was even better than he knew. Not only can COVID-19 worsen diabetes symptoms, but many researchers are now wondering: can COVID cause diabetes? Here’s what you need to know about the link between COVID and type 2 diabetes.

What Is The Relationship Between COVID-19 and Diabetes?

Because high blood sugar can make it more difficult for your body’s white blood cells to fight infections, many illnesses can be harder to deal with when you have diabetes. That’s true of COVID too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with medical conditions like diabetes are more likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID-19.

Additionally, new research suggests there’s an increased risk of diabetes after COVID infection. Researchers found that even a minor case of COVID increased the risk of diabetes in males, and that severe COVID-19 increased the risk in both males and females. 

The good news is the risk of developing diabetes after COVID seems to be lower in people who were vaccinated, so make sure you’re up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations. Evidence also shows that having well-managed diabetes decreases your risk.

Can COVID Make Diabetes Worse?

It might! When you contract a viral infection like COVID-19, your body may develop increased inflammation or internal swelling. High blood sugar can also lead to inflammation, which can trigger more severe COVID-19 complications.

Infections can also spike blood sugar and make insulin resistance worse. It’s still unclear if COVID-19 infection leads to long-term diabetes complications.

The Takeaway

Although the research is still coming in, COVID-19 infection might increase your risk of developing diabetes, or make your existing diabetes symptoms worse. If you are concerned about your risk factors, talk to your primary care provider. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and staying up to day on boosters, washing your hands before eating or touching your face, wearing a mask in crowded spaces, and avoiding close contact with those who are ill can help reduce your chances of getting sick or having severe complications from COVID.

There is also a link between how well managed a person’s diabetes is and the severity of their reaction to a COVID-19 infection. So if you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and want to live a healthier lifestyle, Virta Health may be able to help. By making healthy lifestyle changes in a medical setting with supportive resources like 1:1 virtual coaching, you can regain control of your health and feel like yourself again. See if you’re eligible for Virta Health here.

Are you living with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or unwanted weight?

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