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The latest COVID-19 symptom — diabetes?

Does COVID-19 cause diabetes for those who were infected?

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An illustration of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Does COVID-19 cause diabetes for those who were infected?

Illustration by Michelle Budge, Deseret News

People who recovered from COVID-19 had a higher risk of developing diabetes, according to new research.

Why it matters: This would add to the growing body of ramifications from a COVID-19 infection, showing the long-term damage of the virus.

Driving the news: A new large study found that those who recovered from COVID-19 within the last year had a 40% higher chance of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes compared to those who didn’t catch COVID-19, per The Wall Street Journal.

  • Overall, about 1% of people who had COVID-19 developed diabetes when they otherwise likely wouldn’t have developed it, per The Journal.

Worth noting: Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and cells respond poorly to insulin to take in less sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic.

  • It is more common among adults.
  • There is no cure, but losing weight and eating well can help manage the disease.

Between the lines: People who had mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 infections could develop diabetes, too, per The Washington Post.

  • However, the chances of developing new-onset diabetes were greater for those who had severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Yes, but: “This kind of study cannot prove cause and effect, but it showed a strong association between the two diseases,” according to The Washington Post.


Method: The researchers — who published their findings in the medical journal Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology — reviewed medical records of more than 181,000 Veterans Affairs patients.

  • The records were then compared with 4.1 million VA patients who were not infected during the same period, as well as 4.28 million VA patients who had Medicare in 2018 and 2019.

The bottom line: “For the broader public, if you’ve had covid-19, you need to pay attention to your blood sugar,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, chief of research and development at VA St. Louis Health Care System, according to The Washington Post.