Obesity and the COVID-19 Connection
Obesity is a global health concern that is on the rise. A recent study by the World Health Organization has shown that obesity rates have more than doubled in the past 30 years globally.
According to The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2021 editorial, obesity plays a vital role in weakening the immune system, thus making the individual prone to several contagious diseases.Various studies have shown that people who are suffering from both obesity and COVID-19 have a higher risk of facing hospitalisation, death and other diseases. In addition, these individuals might also have a body-mass index greater than 23 kg/m2, which is one of the contributors towards the possibility of developing severe COVID-19 outcomes, and can be seen especially in patients younger than 40 years of age.
During the lockdown, work from home added to the woes of an already sedentary lifestyle in many individuals, not to forget binge eating which eventually led to obesity. Those tested positive for COVID-19, saw their health condition becoming more critical. Apart from influencing comorbidity conditions in COVID-19, obesity has also been found to influence the following health adversities:
Loss in Fertility
Obesity adversely affects a woman’s reproductive system by causing a hormonal disorder known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is extremely common in women. PCOS can result in cysts in the ovaries, irregular menstrual cycles, and abnormal hair growth.
Strain on Mental Health
Obesity can create a distressing environment for individuals. People who are overweight might face many mental health issues like low-self-esteem, body image issues, and experiencing poor lifestyle.
Obesity is known to impair the Immune function
One’s immunity can easily be compromised by obesity. It not only raises the inflammation levels in the body (leading to risk of heart disorders), but also allows easy entry of pathogens, thus weakening the immune response of the human body.
According to some studies, there has been an observation of higher-than-normal levels of immune-regulating proteins (cytokines) in obese people. In some cases, this issue could force the immune system to misconceive signals and cause harm to healthy tissues and cells.
Overweight and obesity can lead to several health issues such as high blood pressure, joint pains, type 2 diabetes, and so on. Some of the common obesity symptoms are:
- Binge eating
- Disturbed sleep
- Pain in joints or back
- Shortness of breath
- More sweating, and others.
Ailments should be treated right away whenever they occur. According to a study, the following are some of the recent advancements in obesity treatments for obese patients diagnosed with COVID-19:
For the treatment of malaria, Chloroquine is widely used. This drug or medication subdues virus infection by increasing endosomal pH to disturb membrane fusion. It then interferes with ACE2, the receptor of SARS-CoV.
Although Chloroquine is still under trial, the drug has been proven to hinder the duplication of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro in obese patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
Zinc helps in maintenance of immune system. In many obese patients facing COVID, there was a deficiency of zinc.
If Zinc is combined with its ionophores (Zn2+ ) and the activity of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) is suppressed, the replication of SARS-CoV decreases. Therefore, there might be a possibility of zinc being favourable for obese patients diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Corticosteroids usually aid in the treatment of viral pneumonia. Patients who are found to be critically ill, might receive corticosteroids. According to the Randomized Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial report, 28-day all-cause mortality of COVID-19 patients who got administered with 6 mg of dexamethasone every day (for up to 10 days) is less than those obese patients who experienced usual care. This effect can be found to be more different in patients undergoing invasive mechanical ventilation.
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