Why Are Dengue, Chikungunya Harder To Treat In Diabetics?

Chikungunya can be fatal if you suffer from either diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hypertension or kidney issues.

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Delhi is reeling under an onslaught of dengue and chikungunya. In healthy people, these diseases can easily be managed at home but it can be fatal in the high-risk category. (Photo: iStock)

The aedes aegypti is the cockroach of mosquitoes.

It has gripped Delhi in a frightening health-scare. Together, dengue and chikungunya have killed 11 people, and infected over 2000 in this season alone.

In the last two days, Delhi has woken up to three chikungunya deaths - a disease which was rarely considered fatal and required minimal hospitalization - has spiraled out of control and is hitting people with underlying diseases the hardest.

Of the six chikungunya deaths, three people were diabetics, over the age of 55 years and had a heart or a kidney disease. So what makes people with chronic ailments like diabetes, hypertension, cancer and heart diseases more vulnerable? Why do complexities arise and they harder to treat?

Scroll below for some answers:

Dengue and Chikungunya Can Take a Toll If There Is an Underlying Health Complication



In a repeat, Delhi once again faces a bed crunch in the peak dengue, chikungunya season. The Kejriwal government has now announced 1,000 more beds across hospitals to manage the crisis. (Photo: iStockphoto)
In a repeat, Delhi once again faces a bed crunch in the peak dengue, chikungunya season. The Kejriwal government has now announced 1,000 more beds across hospitals to manage the crisis. (Photo: iStockphoto)
Anyone in the high-risk category should be monitored. There have been cases where the infection involves vision, brain inflammation or the body goes into septic shock and multi-organ failure.
Dr KK Agarwal, National President-Elect, Indian Medical Association

First up, who is in the high-risk category? Infants, toddlers, elderly above the age of 60 years, pregnant women, (uncontrolled) diabetics, people suffering from obesity, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, breathing ailments, kidney disorders and thalassemia. Chew on this:

  • 42.5 percent of Delhi is diabetic, 1 in 5 has high blood pressure problems: Large-scale SITE study, 2013
  • 38 percent of men between ages 25-45 have alarmingly high cholesterol: ASSOCHAM study, 2013
  • Delhi is the ‘young heart attack Capital’ of India too. The highest number of hearts stop beating in Delhi below the age of 45: ASSOCHAM study, 2013

That’s major chunk of the Capital’s 16 million population in the high-risk category! And we haven’t even shocked you with TB and cancer figures yet.

Why Do the Sick Get Sicker?

If you have an underlying disease, then chances of an adverse side-effect are pretty high. You best bet would be precaution. (Photo: iStock)
If you have an underlying disease, then chances of an adverse side-effect are pretty high. You best bet would be precaution. (Photo: iStock)

1. Compromised Immunity

Your immune system is your first line of defence. When a virus, bacteria or a parasite attacks the body, the immune system rushes into action, filters out these germs and stops them before they can wreck any havoc.

Sometimes this internal war against the germs and your immunity happens without you ever experiencing any disease symptoms. But in the case of an underlying disease, the immune system is drastically suppressed. The organs are in a compromised state- forget chikungunya or dengue, even a regular flu can turn into pneumonia because the defence system to contain a disease is absent.

So when a cancer patient or someone with uncontrolled diabetes gets the infection, chances of complications and multi-organ failure shoot up.

People with existing complications need to stay safe because if there is bleeding due to low platelet count then the bleeding will not stop. It may lead to hypotension which then causes multi-organ failure.
Dr SP Byotra, Sir Gangaram Hospital

2. Dengue, Chikungunya Are More Severe In the Obese

That’s not all - anyone who has a body mass index of more than 30 is more likely to suffer from a severe reaction known as ‘capillary leakage’ if they get stung by the aedes aegypti mosquito.

Now in this condition the blood plasma can leak from the capillaries into the surrounding tissues, causing a higher-than-normal concentration of red blood cells and an abnormally low level of protein. If it is not contained within 24 to 48 hours, chances of ‘toxic shock’ and death are sky high.

Related Read: FYI Satyendar Jain, Chikungunya Is out of Control and It Kills

Take Precautions, Especially if You’re in the High-Risk Category

Slap mosquito repellent onto any exposed body-part and wear full-sleeved clothing. Most importantly, check for mosquito breeding spots in your house - not just the large coolers or spare tyres, scan the flower pot trays, low level spots on the terrace where water can accumulate - remember even a teaspoon of stagnant water can cause the villain aedes aegypti to thrive.

Drink lots of fluids. You just can’t risk dehydration because that again might lead to low platelet count and internal bleeding.

If you or your family members have an underlying disease, rush to the doctor in case of fever. It’s best to stay under expert supervision and for the love of the Lord, don’t self medicate.

Stay safe, folks!

Related Read: Chikungunya Bites Delhi -- 5 Must-Know Facts About This Outbreak

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