World Diabetes Day: Why COVID-19 poses a threat for diabetic patients and what they need to do

Diabetic patients can have a fully productive and healthier life if they strictly follow these three important things

The US FDA had earlier warned that the risk of DKA and euDKA may be increased for individuals who use SGLT2i drugs, which function by releasing excess glucose in the urine. (Representational image: Reuters)

World Diabetes Day 2020: November 14 marks the celebration of World Diabetes Day. This day is observed every year across the globe to raise awareness about the treatment and prevention of diabetes. It also emphasises on the importance of a healthy lifestyle for diabetic patients as they are prone to infections. And the coronavirus pandemic has made the year 2020 extremely strenuous for such people.

According to Dr Tejeswini Deepak, endocrinologist & general physician at Apollo Spectra Hospital Koramangala Bangalore, people with diabetes could be at greater risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 and it is extremely difficult to treat such patients.

“Diabetic patients with poorly controlled sugar levels tend to have severe symptoms and are more vulnerable to develop complications from the COVID-19 virus. It gets tougher to treat such patients due to fluctuations in sugar levels and the presence of pre-existing diabetes-related complications like kidney failure or heart disease. In addition, they might respond slowly to treatments and hence take a longer recovery time,” said Dr Tejeswini Deepak.

This is because poorly controlled diabetes, which means high blood sugar level, weakens the immune system of the body and reduces its capacity to fight bacteria or viruses that enter the body. This increases the risk for various infections including the coronavirus.

In times like these, the most crucial thing to be done by a diabetic patient is to maintain his/her blood sugar levels.

“The patients should try to achieve the sugar level of 80-110 before food and 140-160 after 2 hours of having food. Social distancing and maintaining good body hygiene especially hand hygiene should be a priority. As we know that diabetes weakens the immune system, patients should try methods of strengthening their immune system by having adequate and good quality sleep, regular exercising, eating a balanced and nutritious diet including food rich in nutrients like Zinc, Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium. Patients should also learn ways that help them reduce stress, as stress leads to fluctuations in sugar levels,” Dr Tejeswini Deepak said.

According to the doctor, diabetic patients can have a fully productive and healthier life if they strictly follow these three important things.

  1. Take prescribed medicines correctly and have regular follow up with the medical team
  2. Ensure regular monitoring of sugar level at home
  3. Get regular check-ups: It is recommended to have a check-up at least once a year for detecting various diabetes-related complications at an early stage

Here are the dos and don’ts for people with diabetes:


  • Seek early medical advice on being diagnosed with diabetes as a delay in starting appropriate treatment is likely to increase the chances of developing other complications
  • Be compliant with the prescribed treatment
  • Exercise regularly and try to maintain weight as close to the ideal body weight as possible
  • Eat a nutritious balanced diet, 4-6 small-sized frequent meals are preferred
  • Do keep a regular check on the sugar levels
  • Do a daily foot examination by self, looking for any injuries
  • Restrict alcohol intake
  • Seek prompt medical help in case of any illness like fever, respiratory illness as diabetic patients are more likely to fall very sick within a short span of time


  • Never skip prescribed medicines
  • Do not skip any meals
  • Do not fast as this can cause hypoglycemia which means dangerously low sugar levels
  • Avoid foods with a high glycaemic index that cause an abrupt rise in sugars
  • Do not exercise on an empty stomach
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid wearing ill-fitting footwear

(Disclaimer: The above article is for information purpose only. Please consult medical professional/doctor for any diagnosis and before starting any medication/therapy.)

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First published on: 14-11-2020 at 08:23 IST