COVID-19 may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes

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A new study found an increased incidence of type 2 diabetes in those who were infected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The study was published in Diabetologia. Led by Wolfgang Rathmann, MD, MSPH, deputy director for Biometrics and Epidemiology at the German Diabetes Center at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, the study set out to discover whether COVID-19 influenced the incidence of type 2 diabetes. To do so, Rathmann and his team of researchers conducted a retrospective cohort analysis of a panel of 1,171 German physicians’ practices known as the Disease Analyzer.

The study period lasted from March 2020 to January 2021 and involved 8.8 million patients. For the control group, people with acute upper respiratory tract infections (AURI) were selected. Those in the second group had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The two groups were watched for age, sex, healthcare, month of COVID-19 or AURI, and comorbidities.

During the study period, 35,865 individuals had COVID-19. Compared to the control group, researchers found that patients with COVID-19 were at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“The incidence of diabetes with COVID-19 infection was 15.8 compared to 12.3 per 1,000 people per year with AURI. Statistical analysis resulted in an incidence rate ratio (IRR) of 1.28. Put simply, this means that the relative risk of developing type 2 diabetes was 28 percent higher in the COVID-19 group than in the AURI group,” Rathmann said in a statement.

This study suggests a COVID-19 infection could lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers said while it’s unlikely that mild COVID-19 would cause type 2 diabetes, those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 should look out for symptoms of diabetes such as increased thirst and frequent urination.