Diabetes and Dengue: Understanding the Risks
Diabetes is a common disease that puts individuals at risk for infections and complications. In India alone, it is estimated that 7.7 crore people suffer from diabetes, making it the second most affected country in the world. As the summer months approach, the likelihood of dengue fever transmission increases. In India, 1.1 lakh cases of dengue were reported from January to October 2022, according to the latest data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Dengue fever is treatable, but it can be life-threatening for those with diabetes.
What is Dengue?
Dengue fever is a viral infection caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Symptoms include high fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and rash. Severe symptoms may also occur, including severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, rapid breathing, bleeding gums or nose, fatigue and weakness, restlessness, blood in vomit or stool, and pale and cold skin.
Risks for Diabetics
Diabetics are at higher risk when infected with dengue. When infections occur, their need for sugar increases. The stress of infection on the body increases levels of certain hormones that work against the action of insulin, increasing blood sugar levels. Diabetics may also develop early kidney disease, which affects the kidneys’ ability to function. Additionally, weakened immunity and blood vessels can cause diabetics to develop severe dengue symptoms. A study published in the Annals of Medicine and Surgery found that people with diabetes have a higher risk of bleeding, and another study in the journal Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection found that diabetic patients infected with dengue were at risk of developing severe plasma leakage, severe bleeding, acute organ involvement, impaired sensation, and myocardial infarction.
Anyone can get infected with the dengue virus. Mosquitoes are responsible for its transmission. To prevent infection, individuals should avoid standing water, use aerosolized insecticides, and mosquito nets when sleeping. They should also use insect repellents that can be applied to skin and clothing and use mesh doors and windows wherever possible. Herbs with insect repellent activities can be additionally used, and camphor and incense can be burned. Lastly, if bitten by a mosquito, applying ice or aloe vera gel can provide symptom relief.
Diabetics, as well as those with underlying diseases, should take extra precautions against infections such as dengue. While diabetes can be managed with effective treatment and lifestyle changes, a dengue fever infection can be dangerous. It is up to each individual to practice the necessary prevention methods against mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue.
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