Infections are a common occurrence. We get infected by viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi; parasites etc. infections weaken the body. It sets in to motion a series of reactions within the body to fight the infections. Hence there is a constant fight between the infective agent and our human body. If the body succeeds in overcoming and destroying the infective agent, then there are no harmful effects and body is restored generally to normal state. If, however, the infective agent gets the upper hand, then it multiples and spreads and the person becomes clinically ill.
So in any infection there is interplay between human body and the infecting agent. This fight by body is carried out by our immune systems. Immune systems use white blood cells (leucocytes) and antibodies to counter the infection. When we treat the infection medically, two things fight the disease agent, viz, the human body and the drug treatment (along with supportive management).Hence for success of drug therapy a good immunity is vital.
In DIABETICS, precisely this immunity is impaired. High blood sugars are used up by bacteria which, hence, multiply much faster. Lowered immunity sometimes allows fungi also to multiply within human tissues. Associated complications of DIABETES further reduce immunity like kidney failure and nerve damage and poor blood flow. Poor blood flow allows bacteria to grow unchecked as few white blood cells reach the area of infection. And a host of other associated factors ensures that any infection in DIABETICS can take root and spread rapidly leading to morbidity and mortality.
Hence, if a DIABETIC gets an infection, it calls for urgent action. Here are some valuable suggestions;
1) Diabetic must seek medical advice as soon as possible, if he has fever, chills, rigors, cough, burning micturition,abscess or any other sign suggestive of infection
2) Fever may not be the classical feature of infection. Other signs like weakness, fatigue, or local signs like pain swelling redness may occur in diabetics.
3) Blood sugars can fluctuate widely in infections in a diabetic. Blood sugars may become very high or very low and/or fluctuate between low and high.
4) Insulin requirements generally will increase during infections. However if the patient is eating very less blood sugars may decrease.
5) Infections may take longer to cure and course of infection may be altered.
6) Blood sugars need to be checked more frequently during infections.
7) Classical symptoms of infection may be masked in a diabetic.
8) Occasionally, but not uncommonly, the infections spread to such an extent that it leads to DIABETIC KETOACIDOSIS, i.e. acid forms in the blood leading to very high morbidity and mortality.
Hence it is important to not ignore any sign of infection in a diabetic .visit your doctor early and get your clinical examination and appropriate investigations done for a proper treatment.