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According to pre-COVID studies, the prevalence of diabetes in the Indian population was 8 per cent. However, with the onset of the pandemic, there has been a rise in cases of diabetes among adults particularly in the southern state of Kerala.
The prevalence of diabetes in Kerala has been reported to be as high as 20 per cent—making it the diabetes capital of India. The state health department is collecting information on patients who developed diabetes and hypertension post-COVID recovery.
Dr Jothydev Kesavadev, a diabetologist, told The Times Of India, "The major consequence of COVID we fear is an increased population that will require lifelong treatment."
According to the statistics, India had 77 million diabetic patients, but now, post-COVID, the number has touched 90 million.
The doctor said, "There is an increase in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes due to COVID. Now there are reports of several children also being affected with Type 1 diabetes. We need to act immediately, or in another five to ten years, there will be a huge surge in non-communicable diseases here."
Dr Kesavadev was a member of the International Diabetes Research Team who recommended that post-COVID blood glucose be considered a vital sign in patients admitted to the hospital, irrespective of whether they have diabetes.
The doctors treating the onslaught of diabetes in COVID-19 patients said that this could be because of the potential interaction of the virus with Angiotensin-converting-enzyme-2 (ACE-2) receptors in metabolic tissues. These tissues can be found in the pancreas, small intestine, and kidneys. Another possible reaction, they said, could be the extensive use of steroids.
The doctors have seen young patients who previously had no issues with their blood sugar levels, or family history of diabetes, developing the disease after their recovery from COVID-19.
They are, however, of the opinion that there is a fast reduction of sugar levels in COVID-induced diabetes.
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