Type 2 diabetes is not a major concern in and of itself, but if left untreated, the condition can lead to a number of deadly complications, such as heart disease. This is because your blood sugar levels are more prone to fluctuating if you have diabetes, and this mechanism damages blood vessels and impairs other vital bodily functions. There is now a threat that has been added to the list of potential complications: COVID-19.
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COVID-19 is a new strain of virus that belongs to the coronavirus group, a family of respiratory infections.
The virus, which first broke out in the Wuhan province in China in December, has so far caused 124,933 cases worldwide and lead to 4,585 fatalities.
Scientists gathering data on the pathogen have revealed that infected people with diabetes are more prone to developing a serious illness.
It is believed that diabetes can weaken your immune system’s defences, leaving you more susceptible to illness.
“However, there are steps to take to keep your blood glucose levels well controlled to help reduce your risk of becoming ill,” explains Diabetes.co.uk.
According to the health body, eating well, testing blood sugars regularly, reducing stress and getting plenty of sleep can help with blood sugar control.
Dan Howarth, head of care at Diabetes UK, 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.”
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Other at-risk underlying conditions
According to official reports, older people, those with a compromised immune system and those with high blood pressure or heart problems, are at an increased risk of developing a serious illness.
People with diabetes should also heed the advice issued to the general public on how to reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus.
Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the most important measure.
“Take notice of areas you might miss including the back of your hands, between your fingers and around the nails,” advises Diabetes.co.uk.
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The NHS recommends repeating this practice when you get home or arrive at work.
The step is imperative because regular hand washing is important helps kill any viruses that may be on your hands.
Other key hygiene tips include:
- Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterward
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean, warns the NHS.
How do I know if I have it?
The main reported symptoms of coronavirus are:
- A cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
What to do if you think you have coronavirus
According to the health body, if you think you might have coronavirus or you’ve been in close contact with someone who has it:
- Stay at home and avoid close contact with other people
- Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
- Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next
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