Study finds patients diagnosed with diabetes after having COVID-19, doctor explains why

Posted at 4:51 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 05:40:38-04

NORFOLK, Va. - A Recent finding from the American Diabetes Association found that 14 percent of patients who recovered from COVID-19 were later diagnosed with diabetes.

The discovery is new, but the findings show COVID-19 can increase the chances of being diagnosed with diabetes.

“Fourteen percent, this is actually based on an international study,” Dr. Elias Siraj, the Director of the Strelitz Center at Eastern Virginia Medical School, explained. “The data included patients from China, from Italy, and from the US."

Dr. Siraj said at the beginning of the pandemic, it was found that the risk of having severe COVID-19 is higher in those with diabetes compared to those without. He also said the chance of death is greater.

As for the new finding, “This is a new area that’s being studied,” Siraj said.

Locally, Siraj added that he and his colleagues have seen new diagnoses of diabetes from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

“A lot of other patients say, ‘I never had any diabetes before, where did it come from,’” Siraj said. “Initially we were telling them we were as puzzled as they were."

But Siraj explained some reasons why, “There’s some evidence that the virus may directly affect the cells which make insulin in our pancreas. Also, COVID being an acute severe illness like any other severe illness, it leads to many stress hormones and that leads to diabetes."

He also said patients may have already had diabetes but were not diagnosed until they were evaluated at the hospital.

Another cause is doctors using steroids as COVID-19 treatments, which Siraj said can have negative impacts.

“At the same time they make our body resistant to the actions of our own insulin,” Siraj explained. “All of us have insulin, that’s what controls our sugars. If it cannot act, our body becomes resistant, then we get diabetes."

But there is good news, “Some of them, their diabetes actually improves at the time of discharge from the hospital,” Siraj said, “meaning it was more or less an acute transient, time-limited issue ."

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