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Why diabetics are at higher risk for getting infections and how to support their immunity


Diabetes affects people of all ages in Myanmar. It is a condition that affects how your body makes or uses insulin. Sugar builds up in your bloodstreams when it is unable to enter cells efficiently. If the problem persists, high blood sugar levels can cause serious health problems that affect your heart, kidneys, nerves, and other organs. Most common types are Type 1 diabetes, where the body cannot produce any insulin and Type 2 diabetes, is where though your body makes insulin, it is unable to use it properly. How does this affect your general resistance? Here are a few major facts you need to watch out for.1

How does Diabetes make the effects of major illnesses heightened?

In Myanmar, out of the patients who were hospitalized for major illnesses with more progressive effects were diabetic. Even when coming off of a major illness, you may be more likely to be left with long term side effects. This is because sugar-derived molecules weaken infection-fighting antimicrobial beta-defensin peptides. Chronic hyperglycemia in diabetes patients can lead to acidosis, which limits the activity of the immune system. Bacteria and viruses thrive in the presence of elevated blood sugars. 1

What are some ways a person with diabetes can use to protect themselves from common infectious diseases?

Even though most illnesses have viable vaccines, it is best for Diabetics to never be in contact with the virus in the first place. This is not just during an epidemic or pandemic, it should be a general rule that when you are susceptible to infections, limit outside contact, avoid crowded spaces if you have to, stay 6 feet away from people when out, wear medical grade masks, avoid ill people, wear gloves if you have to, and practice proper handwashing. Stay up to date on latest MOH health guidelines. If you are Diabetic, it is best that you progress into a healthier lifestyle, stay hydrated, do frequent physical activity, and take necessary medications. In the case you think you may be coming on with something you have never felt before, please contact health hotlines and take advice via telephone from a medical professional. There aren’t really any Diabetics specific or exclusive nutrition, but a recommended to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks, overly sweet fruits, and snacks loaded with sugars, sweeteners and empty calories to start.2

Sources & References:

  1. The Role of DSF (Playlist)
  1. Interview with Dr. U Ye Myint