Coronavirus damages the endocrine system, research says

Engin Akyurt/Pexels

Individuals with endocrine disorders may see their condition worsen as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to a new research published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

SARS-CoV-2 can cause loss of smell and gain entry to the brain. In past coronavirus infections such as the SARS epidemic in 2003, many patients developed a post-viral syndrome with fatigue. This could in part be caused by adrenal insufficiency, a condition where the adrenal glands do not make enough cortisol, as a result of damage to the pituitary system. During the SARS epidemic, patients who developed adrenal insufficiency typically recovered within one year, according to the study.

COVID-19 also could lead to new cases of diabetes and worsening of existing diabetes. The SARS-CoV-2 virus attaches to ACE2, the main entry point into cells for coronavirus, and disrupts insulin production, causing high blood glucose levels in some patients. The authors highlight the need for strict glucose monitoring in patients with COVID-19 as a measure to maximize recovery.

Additionally, the researchers said people with vitamin D deficiency may be more susceptible to COVID-19 and supplementation could improve outcomes, though evidence is mixed.

Editor's note: Click here for more information and ongoing COVID-19 updates for integrative healthcare professionals.