Does Favipiravir raise blood sugar? COVID-induced hyperglycemia in non-diabetics; tips to lower glucose levels  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, including diabetes, might be at risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19
- The SARS-CoV-2 virus can also cause high blood sugar in patients who do not have a history of diabetes or have not been diagnosed with the condition
- Here’s what patients can do to normalise blood sugar levels and prevent serious health complications
New Delhi: Diabetes has been identified as one of the most prominent risk factors for poor outcomes in COVID-19 disease. However, doctors have found that the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 can also cause high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, in COVID-19 patients who don’t have diabetes. Medical doctors who are continuing to see blood sugar spike in patients who are not diagnosed with diabetes or don’t have a history of the condition said the trend is worrisome as it poses challenges for them. As the pandemic progressed worldwide, researchers have found that hyperglycemia is, perhaps, an independent risk factor for COVID-19 mortality, even in non-diabetic patients.
High blood sugar can affect people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, vision loss, kidney damage, or kidney failure. High blood sugar levels also put diabetics at risk of dangerous infections. And when a person with diabetes contract COVID-19 infection, it can be harder to treat because of fluctuations in blood sugar levels or the presence of diabetes complications. Keeping blood sugar levels in the target range as much as possible is important to prevent or delay long-term health problems.
As scientists and health researchers continue to discover new information about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we spoke to Dr Manjunath Malige, chief and senior endocrinologist, Aster RV Hospital, Bengaluru, to better understand the link between COVID-19 and hyperglycemia, whether some medicines being used to treat COVID-19 such as Favipiravir can cause high blood sugar, and what can be done to normalise glucose levels.
Why does COVID-19 raise the blood sugar levels in non-diabetic patients?
Any infection, including the COVID-19 disease, will raise the blood sugar levels. This is the normal response of the body to help the body cope with the infection. However, sometimes this normal response gets out of proportion, thereby increasing the blood sugar levels excessively.
Does Favipiravir increase blood sugar levels in COVID-19 patients?
Favipiravir is an antiviral drug and does not on its own increase blood sugar levels in patients. The fact is, viral infections can increase blood sugar levels. Favipiravir has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use in the country.
What patients can do to lower blood sugar levels
- Diabetes patients with COVID-19 infection should regularly check their sugar levels with a glucose meter 2-3 times per day.
- If the sugar levels are running above 130 (fasting) and above 170 (2 hours after food), they need to see their doctor, preferably an endocrinologist as the dosage or the medications for diabetes treatment may need to be changed.
- Some patients will need insulin at least temporarily while they are on steroids for the treatment of COVID-19 infection.
General measures for high blood sugar include:
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and getting into a routine. Choosing foods that are lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt.
- It’s important for diabetics to keep a track of the amount of carbs in foods and drinks.
- Drinking enough water and avoiding sugary juice or soda.
- Increasing physical activity.
- Taking steps to manage stress.
- Getting adequate sleep each night.
- Taking medicine as instructed by your doctor.
Following a healthy diet consisting of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight can all help manage blood sugar levels.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.