According to the findings of a study published in the Journal of Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, 14.46 per cent of hospitalised COVID patients returned home with diabetes. Doctors in the city added that many of them were the younger persons who were not diabetic before catching the infection.
Dr A Shanmugam, Professor of Diabetology, Government Stanley Medical College Hospital said the number of patients diagnosed with diabetes post-COVID has increased this time compared to the first wave.
The infection on pancreas affects the production of insulin, due to which sugar level in the person’s body increases. “In addition, the extended doses of steroids given to moderate and severe category patients resulted in diabetes in recovered patients,” he added. Another factor is stress, said Dr Shanmugam.
Explaining the role of steroids, Dr K Baraneedharan, senior consultant, Diabetology, Kauvery Hospital, said the steroid used for COVID treatment was found to increase sugar level in some patients. What makes it more concerning is that the patients are not aware that they have diabetes, he said.
Agreeing to the last part, Dr Ashwin Karuppan, senior consultant - internal medicine, Gleneagles Global Health City, said though diabetes in post-COVID cases were found in the first wave itself, only 10 per cent patients identify rise in their sugar levels.
“Due to stress, weight management and steroid therapy, they are diagnosed with diabetes after recovering from COVID. So, we have reasons to believe that the virus is affecting not only the lungs but also damages the pancreas. So people who are susceptible are developing diabetes,” said Dr Ashwin.
Such new diabetics should monitor their sugar level for at least four weeks, and consult a doctor if it remains above 200, said doctors, adding that they should follow a healthy lifestyle, reduce and manage stress. Equally important is understanding the medications prescribed, especially in the case of steroids that should be taken only for a certain number of days as advised by the doctor