Diabetes and the Novel Coronavirus

Liane Vadheim HeadshotNovember is National Diabetes Awareness Month and is an opportunity to remind ourselves of what we know and what we can do. 

WHAT WE KNOW is that people with diabetes have an increased risk of getting sicker with COVID-19. Their symptoms could be worse, they are more likely to need hospitalization and also more likely to die. The risk of complications from COVID-19 increases when diabetes is paired with other risk factors such as heart disease, obesity, and hypertension. The better the diabetes is controlled the less the impact of COVID-19 complications. 

WHAT WE CAN DO is our call to action. Folks in Montana are able to make the tough trade-offs. Just because we are tired of something doesn’t mean we don’t do the right thing. What if a rancher decided he or she was too tired to drive a feed truck or chip ice from a stock tank on a frigid morning? What about being tired from being up much of the night during calving season? Those animals still need access to food, water and appropriate care to ensure the livelihood of both the livestock and the rancher. Just because we are all tired of COVID-19 doesn’t mean that we won’t do the right things. Here are the things you can do to decrease the risks of the deadly diabetes/COVID-19 duo. 

BE PROACTIVE, which means knowing if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes. For those with diabetes, make time to work with your healthcare team and take on the responsibility to  manage your sugars to minimize risk and complications from uncontrolled diabetes, including poor outcomes with COVID-19. Telehealth options are available for those at a high risk or if travel conditions become tough. Managing diabetes can be done as a team with your family, your healthcare providers, and your diabetes educator. They can all help you, but ultimately it will be making the choice to do the right things even when you are tired of them.

If you have pre-diabetes, consider enrolling in a diabetes prevention program (DPP). In Miles City, Forsyth, and Baker, the Healthy Lifestyles program at Holy Rosary Healthcare has been offering the Diabetes Prevention Program for 12 years to help prevent both diabetes and heart disease. For more information, call 406-233-3074. To learn about a DPP program in your area, visit the Montana Department of Health diabetes site.

What if you don’t know if you have pre-diabetes? You can ask your healthcare provider. Another resource is the website www.doihaveprediabetes.org. Anyone can take their simple risk test and check out their resources. 

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, but we have an added foe this year: the novel coronavirus. Please remember to take precautions to minimize exposure, we all know them, even if we may tire of them. Take care of yourself and your loved ones by doing the right things even if you become tired of the routine. Diabetes can be a mentally exhausting disease and our healthcare team is here to support you along the way. Together, we can improve your health and overall outcomes when the going gets tough.

Liane Vadheim, Clinical Dietitian


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