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Can COVID-19 infection lead to diabetes?

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

COVID-19 is not only a respiratory disease but also an illness that causes many known and unknown secondary complications. Surprising new findings show some COVID-19 patients had low levels of a hormone made by fat, leading to miscommunication within the body and causing diabetes.

Almost half of the individuals in a recent study of over 3,800 COVID-19 patients, who were not previously diagnosed with diabetes, developed high blood sugar following COVID-19 infection. Furthermore, approximately 91% of the severe COVID-19 patients and 73% of patients who died of the disease had high blood sugar.

Although the exact mechanism causing this is not yet understood, preliminary findings suggest that damage to fat cells caused directly by the virus or indirectly by inflammation may interfere with fat cells’ ability to make normal insulin, thus inducing diabetes. Fat cells infected with the coronavirus seem to send the wrong message to other cells, leading to low adiponectin – a hormone produced by fat cells that helps other cells heed insulin’s call to take in sugar.

As of now, the findings suggest that COVID-19 patients’ high sugar levels result from insulin resistance induced by a shortage of fat hormones rather than by an inability to produce insulin.

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