After the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world, doctors are noticing some people without the risk of type1 and 2 diabetes, experience a diabetic emergency after contracting SARS-CoV-2. Such cases reflect a new worry about the dangerous link between diabetes and COVID-19.
A 28-year-old Arizona man, Mario Buelna, contracted the virus in June but in August when he was recovering from COVID-19, started to feel weak and noticed vomiting issues. One day, he fell on the floor of his home in Mesa and then he was admitted to a nearby hospital's intensive care unit—after paramedics saved him from a coma.
But the shocking part is, Buelna was then diagnosed with type 1 diabetes—he had no history of diabetes. When he talked to his doctor, he was told that "COVID triggered it."
In another case, Arthur Simis and his wife Sarah--parents of a 12-year-old son--from Nevada noticed that their son Atticus appeared thin and slept a lot. In early July, when his symptoms persisted, Arthur Simis took him to an urgent care center and the medical staff noticed dangerously high blood sugar levels and ketones in his urine—indicating he was in diabetic ketoacidosis.
Their son was admitted to the pediatric ICU in Reno to avoid slipping into a coma from his newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes and the father asked the doctor "How could he have diabetes?". Simis believes he got affected by COVID-19 after both the parents experienced symptoms in the spring. At that time, Arthur and Sarah went to urgent care but never got tested for disease due to stricter testing criteria.
In the case of Atticus, he tested negative for active SARS-CoV-2 infection in the ICU but was never tested for antibodies that could show whether he was exposed to the virus weeks ago. However, as per doctors, in many of these cases, the lack of testing may complicate efforts to detect whether and how the COVID-19 might be causing diabetes.
Link Between Coronavirus and Diabetes
Many healthcare experts are now convinced that Coronavirus infection can trigger the onset of diabetes, even in some people—including adults and children—who do not have the traditional risk factors.
Researchers have already found that people with diabetes are at a much higher risk of developing severe illness or death if they contract novel Coronavirus. A few months ago, US health officials discovered that around 40 percent of people, died due to COVID-19 had diabetes. Now, cases like Buelna and also Atticus suggest that the connection between these two diseases runs both ways.
A diabetes researcher and chair of metabolic and bariatric surgery at King's College London, Dr. Francesco Rubino, who is leading an international team that is collecting such cases to determine the link between COVID-19 and diabetes, said that the Coronavirus could be "causing diabetes from scratch." According to him, such cases have been noticed in "every corner of the world and every continent."
The US National Institutes of Health is also supporting research into how the Coronavirus caused disease can increase high blood sugar levels and cause diabetes. But more studies are required to understand the link and how it is happening on a wide scale.
Dr. Robert Eckel, who is the president of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association said, "We have more questions than answers right now" and expressed his concerns while stating that "we could be dealing with an entirely new form of diabetes."