Coronavirus symptoms: Are people with diabetes at risk? Which type?

Mild coronavirus-like symptoms appearing like the common cold may now serve as enough cause for self-isolation, as the government toys with introducing new measures to curb the virus. The measures come as part of the COVID-19 battle plan, as the country is still in the initial “contain” phase as officials hope to prevent snowballing infections.

Are people with diabetes at risk of coronavirus?

Coronavirus has caused more than 100,000 cases worldwide between 2019 and 2020.

The vast majority of those who experience severe symptoms from the infection are older people, with most deaths in those over 60.

However, risks also increase for people with another illness, known as a comorbidity.


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Scientists have recently outlined certain diseases which, alongside COVID-19, could be dangerous.

Studies of a small population of coronavirus sufferers found diabetes, heart disease and age all played a factor in the number of deaths.

Researchers from a partnership between the China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University in Beijing found half of people requiring treatment for coronavirus had a preexisting condition.

People with both Type one and Type two diabetes have an increased risk of complications from COVID-19.

Statistics from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention show people with diabetes have the second-highest number of deaths.

Roughly eight percent of deaths by health condition included diabetes, below people with cardiovascular problems, of which 11 percent of people die.

Diabetes deaths come slightly above those with respiratory diseases, of which approximately seven percent of people die.

Speaking to the BBC, Dan Howarth, head of care at Diabetes UK, said people with diabetes should keep a close eye on their blood sugar.

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He said: “Coronavirus or Covid-19 can cause complications in people with diabetes.

“If you have diabetes and you have symptoms such as cough, high temperature and feeling short of breath, you need to monitor your blood sugar closely and call the NHS 111 phone service.”

Speaking to The Guardian, Jon Cohen, emeritus professor of infectious diseases at Brighton and Sussex medical school, said COVID-19 causes increased strain on diabetes sufferers’ organs.

He said: “Patients with diabetes often have complications involving the heart, but also the kidneys, and in the same way any extra strain on the body from the infection can cause secondary problems in those organs.”

“Furthermore, we know that diabetics’ immune systems are not quite as good as fighting infections as non-diabetics.”

The overall risk to people with chronic health problems depends on management and longevity.

Those who suffer from regular diabetes complications may be more at risk due to poor health, and age may compound any immune system problems.

Older people are at the highest risk from coronavirus complications, with the vast majority of deaths in people aged 80 and over.

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