Covid 19, Diabetes and Me


I’m Eliot LeBow, a Diabetes-Focused Psychotherapist who has live with diabetes for over 40 years, and today’s blog is about straightening out the confusion of having diabetes while living in a world plagued by the Corona Virus.


First, when you hear the word diabetes attached to Covid 19, the article or story is not clarifying whether they are referring to Type I or Type 2 diabetes. Based on my research around this aspect of confusion, they are most likely referring to Type 2 diabetes, previously also known as Adult Onset.

Recently some researchers have pointed out that a more significant percentage of African Americans are dying than other populations.  If Covid 19 doesn’t discriminate, how is this possible? My best clinical guess based on present research available is that it mirrors the percentage of people who develop Type 2 diabetes, which is most prevalent in the African American and Latino community.


Some individuals living with Type I or Type 2 diabetes believe they are more susceptible to catching Covid 19. That’s false; viruses don’t discriminate. If you have any type of diabetes, it’s essential to take precautions to reduce your risk of contracting the virus.


Once contracting the virus, how does the body fight off Covid 19, and what is the impact of diabetes?


For those living with Type 1 diabetes, you have an autoimmune disorder. This does not compromise the immune system. When your blood sugars are in control, you are doing yourself a benefit to maintain a robust immune system.


Ok, so some of you out there might be saying, “What are you talking about! How could that be? I get sick often, and it seems so much harder to get rid of it when I get it.”


Struggling with recovery from a viral infection may be valid for several reasons. In essence, your immune system isn’t healthy due to not get sick enough as a child, poor eating habits, not enough vitamin C, inadequate hydration, various chemical addictions, or many other factors.


Here are some reasons the immune system might be compromised or impaired due to living with diabetes. The following reasons for a weakened immune system can be within your control with proper diabetes management, baring other complicating medical issues.


High and unstable blood glucose levels reduce the immune system’s ability to heal and hinders the antibodies in your immunes system from addressing foreign objects in the body.


An antibody is a protein that your immune system uses to attack foreign objects. Those foreign objects, such as viruses or bacteria, can be potentially harmful when blood glucose levels are not stable and in range.


Sometimes, the immune system makes autoantibodies, which are antibodies that mistakenly attack healthy cells that aren’t harmful. When that happens, it causes an autoimmune disorder like Type 1 diabetes, attacking the insulin-producing cells of the body. Type 2 diabetes is not an autoimmune disorder but a genetic disorder that causes insulin resistance in multiple ways.


What all of this means to someone living with any type of diabetes is that it is vital to stay hydrated, take medication as prescribed while working towards healthy eating. To manage blood sugars, the best you can to increase your body’s ability to fight off Covid 19, or any other virus you might catch.


We are living in a stressful time, and stress is also a factor that can impair the body’s ability to function at 100 percent.


Talking with a mental health provider at this time is essential to diabetes management as anxiety and stress will cause your body to increase the hormone cortisol, causing insulin resistance and higher blood glucose levels.


If you have Type 1 diabetes, when sick, you can increase your basal rate a little to counteract the cortisol release that happens.


For people with Type 2, Please follow the direction of your doctors to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range.


Is this scary? Yes. Do you have the ability to reduce the impact of Covid 19, should you catch it? Yes, with healthy nutrition, hydration, proper diabetes management, and following your doctor’s advice.


Since we are all different, and this blog is not to be considered medical advice, talk with your endocrinologist or certified diabetes educator, before making any management changes.


Once again, I’m Eliot LeBow, a Diabetes-Focused Psychotherapist who has been living with Type 1 diabetes since 1977. For the past 15 years, I’ve been helping individuals and families living and dealing with; Type I and II diabetes, and this is my blog.


Medical Disclaimer:

All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.

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