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Can Antigen Test React on Diabetes?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the daily lives of billions of people worldwide. It has been a challenging time for everyone, especially those with diabetes.

Studies show COVID-19 patients with diabetes had the worst symptoms. Those hospitalized with COVID-19 often ended up in the intensive care unit (ICU). [1, 2]

Out of fear of the worst, doctors are now more cautious about anything related to COVID-19, including the Rapid Antigen Test. The main concern is whether the test is safe for everyone.

In this article, we’ll thus discuss everything a diabetic patient needs to know about the SARS-CoV-2 antigen test.

What is an Antigen Test?

An antigen test is a rapid testing method to confirm the presence of an infection. These tests detect specific antigens (i.e., proteins) in an individual’s sample. Antigens are like foreign invaders to our immune system. They trigger our bodies to make antibodies against them, provoking an immune response.

In the case of COVID-19, antigen tests can rapidly tell us if we have the coronavirus by assessing a sample from our nose or throat. They are a faster and cheaper means of detecting COVID-19 and can give results within 15 to 30 minutes. But they are less accurate than other COVID tests, like the PCR test. [3, 4]


Can Antigen Test be Positive on People with Diabetes?

Yes, people with diabetes can be positive on an antigen test just like any other healthy person. The test detects the coronavirus in anyone who has it. Diabetes does not raise the risk of a false positive test result. [4]

Be assured that the COVID-19 antigen test is safe for people with diabetes. Most antigen tests have no limitations on who can buy, use, or receive them. Children below two years of age are the only age group that cannot undergo the COVID antigen test.
But, as stated above, those with diabetes are more likely to have severe COVID-19 once infected. One possible reason for this is their weakened immune system by diabetes. So once infected, they may find it hard to fight off the virus. [5]

So they should be extra cautious to avoid getting infected by the virus. To be safe, they should also have antigen tests done regularly.

Can Diabetics Get the COVID Vaccines and Boosters?

Yes, they can!

The COVID-19 vaccines are generally safe for those with diabetes. There is no proof that they react less favorably to the COVID vaccine or the booster jab. [6, 7]

Side effects seen after getting the COVID vaccine are not specific to diabetes. But diabetic patients may see a spike in their blood sugar level for a day or two. [8, 9] This reaction, however, is not a cause for concern. It is nothing else but our body’s natural response to a foreign substance, i.e., the vaccine.

People with diabetes should keep in mind a few things. First of all, they have a weaker immune system due to diabetes. And they are more likely to have severe COVID-19 symptoms than non-diabetic people. [5, 10] So they should get vaccinated if they can. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggests the same. The agency recommends that they should be among the first to get vaccinated.

Last but not least, each person will have different needs and timing to get the vaccine or its booster jab. So diabetic patients should ask their doctors if they can take the vaccine and booster shots.

Tips for COVID-19 Patients with Diabetes

If people with diabetes test positive for COVID-19, they should take extra care of their health to avoid complications. Here are some tips for managing their condition after they become infected with the virus.

Monitor blood sugar levels regularly

People with diabetes should regularly check their blood glucose levels and keep them within normal ranges. High blood sugar levels raise the risk of getting infected by the coronavirus, so they should maintain them at a healthy level. [11]

Take diabetes medications as prescribed

Diabetic patients should keep taking their diabetes medicines, even if they test positive for COVID-19. If not, they will have sudden blood sugar spikes or dips during quarantine. Also, stopping or skipping those medications may worsen their COVID symptoms. So they should continue taking those medicines unless their doctor tells them otherwise. [2, 12]

Stay hydrated

Diabetes patients must stay hydrated, especially if they have COVID-19. They are more prone to dehydration due to their high blood glucose levels. Because their bodies produce little to no insulin, their kidneys work too hard to flush out the extra blood sugars. They start urinating more often over time, potentially becoming dehydrated. [13] So they should drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.

Eat a balanced diet

COVID-19 patients with diabetes should follow a healthy diet at all costs, even if they have a low appetite. They must avoid processed foods, salty snacks, sweets, and sugary drinks. These foods can cause a spike in their blood sugar levels. Instead, they should eat healthy meals made up of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. [7]

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can help diabetic patients to manage their blood sugar levels. It can also boost their immune system and improve their moods. These are all essential for maintaining good health during this difficult time.

Get help right away

People with diabetes are more likely to have severe illnesses from COVID-19. Some may even develop severe complications like diabetic ketoacidosis and pneumonia. So they should get hospitalized right away if their symptoms worsen. [5, 11]


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can Covid Affect Blood Sugar?

Yes, COVID-19 can affect blood sugar levels. The coronavirus seems to interfere with the activity of signaling proteins like cytokines. It also reduces the production of a hormone called adiponectin. This hormone is a regulator of our blood sugars. [11, 14] Insulin resistance thus ensues, which ultimately leads to high blood sugar levels.

Diabetes patients should routinely check their blood sugar levels. High blood sugars lower the ability of their white blood cells to fight off intruders, making them more likely to face a worse COVID outcome. [1, 2, 5] So if they see any unusual changes in their blood glucose levels while infected with the virus, they should seek immediate medical help.

Can Covid Cause Gestational Diabetes?

There is no definitive evidence that COVID-19 causes gestational diabetes. But it may make COVID symptoms worse. Studies suggest that pregnant women with COVID-19 who also have gestational diabetes have a 3.3-fold higher risk of being admitted to the ICU. [15]

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs only in pregnant women. It usually goes away after childbirth. Placental hormones are often to blame for this type of diabetes. These hormones cause high blood sugar levels by blocking insulin in the mother’s body. This insulin resistance can hurt the mother and her baby.

Can Remdesivir Cause High Blood Sugar?

Given the evidence we have so far, it is hard to say whether Remdesivir can cause spikes in blood sugar levels. However, some evidence does point out that it may raise blood sugar levels in those who already have diabetes or are at risk of developing it. [16]

Does Diabetes Make COVID-19 Worse?

Yes, diabetes can make COVID-19 worse. Diabetic patients may find it harder to fight off the coronavirus and can get sicker than someone without diabetes. [1, 5]

Studies suggest people with diabetes are more likely to develop severe illnesses from COVID-19. These include pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and multiple organ failure. Scientists are still clueless about why this happens to them. But it seems that high blood sugar levels are to blame. [5, 11, 12]

They should do the following if they suspect they may have caught up with COVID-19:

  • Keep their blood sugar within normal ranges,
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle, and
  • Seek medical help right away.

Final Thoughts

People with diabetes do not react differently to antigen tests. But what’s worrying is that they have a higher risk of developing a severe illness from COVID-19. So they should get the COVID vaccine as soon as they can.

If they contract the virus, they should do the following:

  • Keep a close eye on their blood sugar levels;
  • Talk to their doctors about any changes in their symptoms or treatment needs.


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