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Diabetes prevention, management critical amid pandemic

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been at the forefront of our minds lately, it’s still important to stay on top of preventing and managing other conditions, especially those that put a person at additional risk for COVID-19 complications.

One such condition is diabetes, which is the seventh leading cause of death in Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

And with 870,000 Michiganders living with the condition, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently proclaimed this month as Diabetes Awareness Month in Michigan.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, and how the virus has severely impacted those with underlying medical conditions, means it is even more important for people to be able to manage their diabetes well,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for MDHHS, in a press release. “People living with diabetes should work with their physician to manage their condition, which includes a healthy diet, exercise, and taking any medications as directed. We encourage people across Michigan living with diabetes to create a diabetes preparedness plan, including having extra medication and supplies on hand.”

In our region, the Upper Peninsula Diabetes Outreach network estimates that 90% of the 100,000 Yoopers with prediabetes are unaware they have the condition, meaning they aren’t taking the critical steps to delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

“There are Yoopers who knew that they had prediabetes and did not take action and went on to develop type 2 diabetes,” UPDON officials said in a news release. “One of them told her diabetes care and education specialist: ‘I wish I would have taken having prediabetes more seriously.'”

Due to this, we ask our readers to take action by assessing their own risk for the condition and encouraging others to do so, as this information can change or even save lives.

UPDON officials recommend the following steps to assess your risk:

≤ Go to http://nmu.edu/ruralhealth/diabetes and take the Prediabetes Risk Test.

≤ Get a fasting blood test if you score “high risk” on the risk test.

≤ Take action to lose weight and be active to prevent type 2 diabetes if your blood sugars are 100 to 125 mg/dL.

We hope our readers will spread the word about the importance of preventing and managing diabetes this month and consider donating time or funds to a local organization — such as the Upper Peninsula Diabetes Outreach Network — that offers resources and support for those living with the condition.

To learn more about UPDON, visit http://upcap.org/program/u-p-diabetes-outreach-network-updon/ or find it on Facebook. For more information from the state on managing and preventing diabetes, visit Michigan.gov/Diabetes.

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