Which infections occur almost exclusively in type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM), and what is the relationship of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to diabetes?

Updated: Oct 08, 2021
  • Author: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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A few infections, such as malignant otitis externa, rhinocerebral mucormycosis, and emphysematous pyelonephritis, occur almost exclusively in patients with diabetes, though they are fairly rare even in this population. Infections such as staphylococcal sepsis occur more frequently and are more often fatal in patients with diabetes than in others. Infections such as pneumococcal pneumonia affect patients with diabetes and other patients with the same frequency and severity. [79]

A study reported that out of 178 adult patients hospitalized with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), at least one underlying condition was found in 89.3%, the most common being hypertension (49.7%), obesity (48.3%), chronic lung disease (34.6%), diabetes mellitus (28.3%), and cardiovascular disease (27.8%). [80]

According to a report by Stokes et al, out of 287,320 US cases of COVID-19 in which the patient’s underlying health status was known, diabetes was the second most common underlying condition (30%), after cardiovascular disease (32%), which in this study included hypertension. [81, 82]

The aforementioned study by Barrera et al found the overall prevalence of diabetes in patients with COVID-19 to be 12%, with the prevalence being 18% in severe COVID-19. [56, 57]

In patients with type 1 DM who were diagnosed with COVID-19, a study by Ebekozien et al found that high blood glucose (48.5%), elevated temperature (45.5%), dry cough (39.4%), excess fatigue (33.3%), vomiting (33.3%), shortness of breath (30.3), nausea (30.2%), and body aches/headaches (21.2%) were the most prevalent presenting symptoms reported. Moreover, diabetic ketoacidosis was the most prevalent adverse outcome (45.5%) among these patients. [83, 84]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes type 2 DM in the list of conditions that increase the likelihood of severe illness in persons with COVID-19, and type 1 DM in the list of conditions that may increase this likelihood. [85]

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