When should someone with diabetes go to the hospital due to COVID?

COVID-19 is a disease that can lead to serious complications. Living with diabetes can increase the risk of serious disease. It is essential that people with this disease know how to manage their health and when to seek medical attention after contracting the virus.

COVID-19 is a disease that results from infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Diabetes refers to a group of conditions that affect how the body processes blood sugar. People with diabetes may have an increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19. As such, these individuals are advised to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and maintain safety measures.

Many people have mild symptoms of COVID-19 and do not need to go to hospital. However, if a person develops emergency warning signs, it is advisable to seek medical attention immediately.

In this article, we discuss when someone with diabetes needs to go to the hospital due to COVID-19. We also look at how to prevent and treat the disease.

According to the ADA, people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19 infection. To research notes that these may include a higher risk of severe pneumonia and hospitalization. Additionally, evidence indicates that each of these conditions can negatively affect the other.

A 2020 analysis indicates that people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes have three times the risk of complications compared to those without diabetes. For example, in a 2020 study, 22.2% of people in the intensive care unit had diabetes, compared to 10.1% of the general population hospitalized with COVID-19.

In general, people with diabetes are more likely to suffer complications from viral infections. This is especially true if they are experiencing complications from their diabetes. Although more research is still needed to confirm exactly why diabetes increases the risk of complications from COVID-19, evidence suggests it may be linked to the high levels of inflammation a person may experience.

In addition to modifying the inflammatory response, some evidence suggests that diabetes may affect the entry of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles into cells.

Additionally, people with diabetes are at higher risk for DKA when they have a viral infection. A 2022 review notes that COVID-19 increases the risk of DKA, which, in turn, leads to less positive COVID-19-related outcomes. A Case Report 2021 makes a similar conclusion.

Anyone with COVID-19 should see a doctor to determine the best treatment option. Treatment for COVID-19 may depend on a person’s risk of serious illness. As people with diabetes have an increased risk of complications, doctors may advise specific treatments.

The CDC recommends that people with diabetes take certain steps if they become ill. These to understand:

  • continue to take insulin and diabetes medications as prescribed
  • test blood sugar every 4 hours
  • eat normally
  • drink extra fluids without calories
  • check weight daily, as losing weight without trying may indicate high blood sugar
  • check body temperature in the morning and evening

It’s also important to have enough medication, such as insulin, and easy-to-prepare food for a few weeks. A person may need isolate themselves at home and separate themselves from others as much as possible.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also provides guidelines for the management of COVID-19 at home, which includes the use of medications. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of two oral antiviral drugs to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 and reduce the risk of severe disease. These are called nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid) and molnupiravir (Lagevrio).

Certain safety measures can help reduce the risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 and developing COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that receiving a COVID-19 vaccination is the main way people can protect themselves. The WHO also recommends:

  • washing hands frequently with soap and water
  • avoid the crowds
  • wearing a properly fitted mask in poorly ventilated indoor environments

The CDC adds that other precautions may include:

  • avoid contact with sick people
  • take a SARS-CoV-2 test after known exposure
  • stay home when sick or after a positive COVID-19 test

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, taking certain precautions can help prevent complications. These may include:

  • talk with a healthcare professional about how to manage COVID-19
  • check blood sugar often
  • maintain hydration
  • continue to take diabetes medications

A person living with diabetes has an increased risk of serious complications from COVID-19. It is advisable to seek immediate medical attention if warning signs of COVID-19 appear, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain and confusion. Additionally, someone may be advised to see a healthcare professional if they are having trouble controlling their blood sugar.

To help manage the disease, it is advisable to check blood sugar regularly and continue taking prescribed medications. A person can also take precautions to avoid COVID-19, such as getting their shots, washing their hands regularly, and wearing a face mask when appropriate.

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