• Home
  • June 2020 Diabetes and Increased Severity of COVID-19 Newsletter


Diabetes and COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has made it necessary for all of us to take essential precautions. For the more than 30 million people in the United States who have diabetes, however, taking steps to avoid coronavirus infection is even more important. Having diabetes, especially if the diabetes is not well-controlled, can increase the likelihood of severe and potentially life-threatening coronavirus complications.

Health educators and other healthcare professionals teach the importance of lifestyle factors to help prevent the development of conditions such as prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. For patients and clients who have diabetes, healthcare professionals make it their mission to help their patients and clients manage their diabetes to reduce the risk of diabetic complications.

As we continue to confront the coronavirus crisis, it’s also important to continue to emphasize the importance of blood glucose control for those who have diabetes. When diabetes is well-controlled, the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 decreases significantly.

Here at Health Edco, we have a wide range of diabetes education materials and models to teach patients and clients about diabetes management. Our expanding line of hygiene teaching tools offers more ways to help everyone stop the spread of viral respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. Read on to learn more about the connection between diabetes and severe coronavirus complications, and discover a few of our many diabetes education materials and hygiene teaching resources.

Our popular A1C Levels: An Inside Look™ Model
is perfect to explain the A1C test to patients and students.

Diabetes and the Risk of Severe COVID-19 Complications

Diabetes is one of several conditions (including chronic lung disease and serious heart conditions, among others) that increases the risk of severe complications from COVID-19. Early research has suggested that, depending on global region, 20 to 50 percent of COVID-19 patients had diabetes. In the United States, early studies have shown almost one-third of patients with COVID-19 admitted into intensive care units also had diabetes. Among those patients hospitalized who were not admitted into intensive care, nearly a quarter had diabetes. Only 6 percent of patients with COVID-19 who did not need to be hospitalized had diabetes.

Having diabetes, therefore, increases the likelihood of severe illness as a result of coronavirus infection, raising the risk of hospitalization, the need for a ventilator, and possible death. For people who have diabetes, taking precautions to avoid becoming infected and keeping blood glucose levels under control are important steps to take during this coronavirus pandemic.

How Can Diabetes Increase the Severity of COVID-19?

Having diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2, doesn’t make a person more likely to be infected with the coronavirus, but it does increase the likelihood of severe illness as a result of the infection.

High blood glucose levels in people whose diabetes is not well-controlled can cause chronic inflammation and interfere with the ability of white blood cells to fight infection, weakening the immune system. Viral infections, including a coronavirus infection, also cause inflammation, putting additional strain on an immune system that is already weakened.

Our Effects of Diabetes Display depicts a heart attack, kidney
damage, and other complications of uncontrolled diabetes.

Uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to heart disease, which potentially may have gone undiagnosed prior to a coronavirus infection. Heart disease and chronic kidney disease, each of which can result from diabetes that is not well managed, can increase the likelihood of severe COVID-19 complications. COVID-19 can raise blood pressure, putting additional stress on the body as it tries to fight infection.

People with diabetes who develop COVID-19 are also at increased for developing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS can complicate attempts to provide respiratory support for patients who need it. Severe obesity also increases the risk for ARDS. In some cases, patients who are severely obese may also suffer from type 2 diabetes.

A viral infection, such as a coronavirus infection, also raises the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, more typically occurring in patients with type 1 diabetes. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when high levels of acids called ketones rise in the blood, which can be life-threatening. Diabetic ketoacidosis causes a loss of electrolytes and can make it difficult to manage fluid levels. Increased blood pressure can also lead to dehydration.

Our Diabetes Education Package provides comprehensive information
about diabetes and the importance of blood glucose control.

Managing fluid and electrolyte levels is extremely important if sepsis, a possible complication of COVID-19, occurs. Sepsis is a dangerous, body-wide response that can occur as the body tries to respond to an infection, potentially causing septic shock, damage to multiple organ systems, and death.

Be Prepared With a Diabetes Plan

People who have diabetes should always work closely with their diabetes healthcare team to ensure they maintain healthy blood glucose levels to avoid diabetic complications. During this pandemic, keeping a ready supply of diabetic care materials, medications, and healthy foods on hand can minimize trips to public places where infection is more likely to occur. People with diabetes should stay in touch with their healthcare professionals and any other caregivers and report any potential symptoms immediately.

Ways to Help Stop the Spread of Coronavirus

We should all take simple steps to help avoid catching or spreading the coronavirus, such as:

  • Washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds

  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

Teach ways to help protect against the coronavirus with our
How to Protect Against Flu and Other Viruses Folding Display.

  • Catching and covering coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your elbow

  • Maintaining a social distance

  • Wearing a cloth face cover over your nose and mouth in public

  • Staying home when sick

  • Following government guidelines

Our new Stop the Spread of Coronavirus Banner colorfully
illustrates ways to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Learn More

Leading a healthy lifestyle and being as healthy as possible are the best ways to help protect our health from serious complications from viral illnesses, including the flu and COVID-19. To discover more diabetes education resources that educate about type 2 diabetes prevention, diabetic complications, and diabetes management, visit our Diabetes Education Resources Section. Find more educational resources to promote hand washing and other ways to stop the spread of viral respiratory illnesses in our Hygiene Education Materials Section.

©2020 Health Edco®