Beware: COVID-19 virus may damage the endocrine system and trigger many diseases

Beware: COVID-19 virus may damage the endocrine system and trigger many diseases
Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid drug used in a wide range of conditions for its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects, may help in treatment of COVID-19 patients.

According to Sri Lankan researchers, COVID-19 may damage the endocrine system of your body and trigger the development of many diseases. Read on to know more.

Written by Jahnavi Sarma |Updated : July 4, 2020 4:52 PM IST

The COVID-19 virus, which is behind the current global pandemic is dangerous especially for the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. Besides affecting susceptible people, like those with diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, it may also lead to other chronic conditions. Researchers say that this new variant of coronavirus may cause permanent lung and brain damage and cause organ failure. It can affect the kidneys and the gastrointestinal system too.

Now Sri Lankan researchers say that this disease may also damage the endocrine system of your body. This is an essential system of the human body that is made up of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries and testicles. Basically, it is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, tissue function, reproduction, growth and development sleep and mood. Diabetes and thyroid disorders are the most common problems that resu,t from a malfunctioning endocrine system.

Virus enters endocrine cells and triggers diseases

Researchers from the National Hospital of Sri Lanka have revealed that people with endocrine disorders may see their condition worsen as a result of COVID-19. The virus that causes COVID -19 binds to the ACE2 receptor, a protein which is expressed in many tissues. This allows the virus to enter endocrine cells and cause the mayhem associated with the disease. They explored the previous SARS outbreak caused by the very similar virus SARS-CoV-1 to advise endocrinologists involved in the care of patients with COVID-19. According to the study, published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, SARS-CoV-2 can cause loss of smell and gain entry to the brain.

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It may cause adrenal insufficiency

In past coronavirus infections such as the SARS epidemic in 2003, many patients developed a post-viral syndrome with fatigue. This could in part be caused by adrenal insufficiency, a condition where the adrenal glands do not make enough cortisol, as a result of damage to the pituitary system. During the SARS epidemic, patients who developed adrenal insufficiency typically recovered within one year.

It may cause diabetes

According to the researchers, Covid-19 also could lead to new cases of diabetes and worsening of existing diabetes. The SARS-CoV-2 virus attaches to ACE2, the main entry point into cells for coronavirus, and disrupts insulin production, causing high blood glucose levels in some patients. Researchers highlight the need for strict glucose monitoring in patients with COVID-19 as a measure to maximize recovery.

It may cause thyroid disorders

University Hospital Pisa researchers say that COVID-19 may cause thyroid disease in patients. Oxford's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism published this study. Researchers say that this virus may trigger subacute thyroiditis, a condition that causes inflammation of the thyroid gland. Though this is a temporary disorder caused by a virus, subacute thyroiditis can lead to permanent complications if left untreated.

Steroid treatment may help

Testing for cortisol deficiency and treating patients with steroids may become a vital treatment strategy. Recent studies have demonstrated lowered mortality in severely ill patients with COVID-19 treated with the steroid dexamethasone. Researchers say that people with vitamin D deficiency may be more susceptible to coronavirus and supplementation could improve outcomes. However, they concede that evidence on the subject is mixed.

(With inputs from IANS)