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Blood donations fall due to cold weather

Donors needed throughout Michigan to help save lives

 

N-Donate-blood-Kathy-Uzarski-0213Historically low temperatures and heavy snowfall are increasing the need for donors at Michigan Blood, a nonprofit blood bank that provides blood and blood products to more than 40 hospitals throughout Michigan, including those in the West Michigan area.

“On a normal day we receive up to 400 donations throughout the state,” Jim Childress, Vice President of Community Relations at Michigan Blood said while explaining the importance of maintaining donors during rough weather periods. “However, this unprecedented weather has caused our donations to fall sharply. Monday we received only 44 donations across the entire state, and Tuesday we had to close our center in St. Joseph because roads were impassable.”

Blood donors make a lifesaving difference everyday, but since blood is a perishable resource that can only be stored for a short time, the need for donors never ends. This increased need at Michigan Blood is a great opportunity for veteran and first time donors alike to start the New Year off right, or fulfill a New Year’s resolution.

“This is going to have implications for us over the next several weeks,” Childress said. “So even if you are not able to make it out due to the weather, please call and schedule a time to come in and donate this month.”

Anyone interested in donating blood can visit www.miblood.org for more information or contact the local Michigan Blood donation center at 1036 Fuller Ave NE, Grand Rapids 49503.

 

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Give back by volunteering for hospice care

Free training program here in January and February

By Judy Reed

 

N-HospiceWould you like to make a big difference in someone’s life? Would you like to serve those in your own community? You can—and it doesn’t have to be more than one or two hours a week. But those two hours could mean a great deal to both families and individuals facing an end of life.

Spectrum Health Hospice will offer a five-week volunteer training session at Cedar Springs United Methodist Church beginning January 22. There will be five sessions, of three hours each—January 22, 29, February 5, 12 and 19, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Yvonne Elliot, Volunteer Coordinator for Spectrum Health Hospice and Palliative Care, said they are continuing to see a rapid growth in support needed for patients and families on the north end of Kent County and beyond into Montcalm County. “As we provide physical, emotional and spiritual support to these patients through our paid staff, we see a great need for additional volunteers to ensure that all our patients are offered the same level of support regardless of their location,” she explained. “Therefore we are taking our volunteer training on the road to the Cedar Springs area to encourage volunteers to join our program that are interested and willing to support patients and families in that geographic area.”

Volunteers play a vital role in supporting the patient by providing relief for the caregiver, friendly visits for the patient, music (both vocalists and instrumentalists needed), life story review, visiting dogs, haircuts, massage therapy and much more.

Local volunteer Betty Patterson, 80, of Sparta, gets great enjoyment from giving back to the people and families she visits. “I get more back than I give,” remarked Betty. “They are nice people who welcome you into their homes and lives. They are people in a hard place.”

Betty has been working with Spectrum Hospice for six years. During that time, she’s done a variety of things with the patients and families, depending on what they need. “I baked cupcakes with a lady who could barely hold a spoon,” she recalled. “I put the bowl in her lap and helped her stir.” Betty explained that she put chocolate frosting on the woman’s fingers when it was time to frost the cupcakes. “It was a chocolate mess all over,” she said with a laugh. “We were both covered in chocolate trying to frost those cupcakes. We had fun.”

There was a man that Betty visited who never spoke a word to her, but the family told her that he enjoyed gospel hymns. So she brought a hymnal and sang him songs out of it for an hour each time. She told him that if he ever wanted her to stop, all he had to do was blink his eyes, but he never did.

Another patient of Betty’s was a war bride from Germany. “The woman had a lot of pictures, so we took a trip down the Rhine,” said Betty. “I learned a lot.”

Betty read Winnie the Pooh to one patient. With another, she just held her hand. “In the training you learn how to just be present with somebody,” she explained.

Betty said that sometimes she just relieves a caregiver that needs to sleep, or needs to go out and do some shopping. They have often exhausted family. Other times a patient has no family.

Betty is also an 11th hour volunteer—one who will visit people who are right at the end of life’s journey. And she’s happy to do it. “I’m a good Episcopalian,” she explained. “It’s part of being a Christian—you give back.” She urged anyone thinking about volunteering to give it a shot. “It’s been a wonderful experience for me,” she said.

Yvonne spoke highly of Betty and the other volunteers they have. “We are always amazed at the wonderful community that we live in. It is humbling to see the amount of truly caring people who desire to use their time and talents to support our patients and their families. It is awesome to know that there are people interested in making a difference for people facing end of life. It is a very appreciated and rewarding volunteer opportunity.”

Spectrum Hospice supports patients in a wide geographic area (one hour distance from downtown Grand Rapids). Volunteers select the geographic area that they would like to serve. Additional volunteers are especially needed for the Northern Kent and Montcalm county area.

After completing training, most volunteers donate approximately one hour of their time per week. There are others who choose to donate more as their schedule allows.

If the winter training session will not work with your schedule, contact Yvonne to be placed on a notification list for future volunteer trainings. For more information or application materials please contact Yvonne Elliott at 616-391-4240 or via email Yvonne.elliott@spectrumhealth.org.

 

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Aging in Place

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

FAMILY FEATURES

 

Most people prefer to stay in their home or apartment for as long as possible. The best way to make this a reality is to plan ahead of time to make the amenities in your home as safe and accessible as possible. It can be hard to imagine that tasks around the house that were once done with ease can one day pose a challenge. Anticipating the challenge and planning accordingly may allow you to remain in your home for an extended period of time. Often, with some minor modifications, your home can be adapted to help you stay as long as possible even with some loss of mobility

 

Home Modifications

Living at home longer may mean renovating a home to make it more accessible. This can include such things as installing ramps to bypass stairs, building a bedroom on the main floor, placing grab bars in the shower, changing the height of kitchen countertops or making a bathroom safer and more accessible. Before you make home modifications, you should evaluate your current and future needs by going through your home room by room and answering a series of questions to highlight where changes might be made. Several checklists are available to help you conduct this review. The National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modifications is a good place to start. Go to the center’s website at http://www.homemods.org and click on the link to the “Safety Checklist and Assessment Instrument.”

Getting Help

Keeping a house running smoothly requires a lot of hard work. If you are no longer able to keep up with the demands, you may need to hire someone to do laundry, buy groceries, run errands, clean the house or perform any necessary repairs. Those who are unable to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as getting in and out of bed, walking, bathing, dressing, and eating, can often continue to stay at home with outside help. There are a number of services that can be brought in to assist with ADLs and other personal care. You can hire someone, such as a personal care aide or home health aide, to help you out a few hours a day or around the clock.

Some health care services can be provided at home by trained professionals, such as occupational therapists, social workers or home health nurses. Check with your insurance or health service to see what kind of coverage is available, although you may have to cover some of these costs out of pocket. If very specific conditions are met, Medicare will help pay for all or a portion of home health care.

Transportation

Declining health often causes a decline in independence and mobility. Many seniors lose the ability to drive or simply feel uncomfortable behind the wheel at night. Investigate transportation options in your area so you can maintain an active social life, get medical care and shop for necessities. You might find family members willing to take you to the grocery store, friends who will drive you to social events, nearby bus routes, reduced fare taxis or senior transportation services funded by a local not-for-profit. Staying in your home should not mean being cut off from community activities you enjoy. Finding new ways to get around, even after you are no longer driving, may allow you to stay engaged and active.

 

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Flu cases rising in Kent County

 

 

Flu cases are rising in Kent County, and the Kent County Health Department urges parents to make sure their family is protected against the flu by getting vaccinated.

The KCHD said that we have not yet reached the peak of flu season, and the number of cases continues to rise. There are 324 reported flu cases in Kent County as of January 7; epidemiologists estimate only 8 percent of cases get reported, so the actual number could be more than 2800.

“Many adults have this misconception that the flu vaccine is just for kids, the elderly, or people who have medical conditions,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Even healthy adults need protection. The CDC reports an increase in severe respiratory illness among young and middle-aged adults due to influenza A (H1N1) this year. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age.” The vaccine can take ten days to two weeks to become effective. Some children ages 6 months to 2 years old may require two doses of vaccine (parents should check with a health care provider for details).

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu viruses can spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. Someone might also get flu by touching a surface or object (like a phone) that has flu virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose. Signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). The KCHD says that if you think you have the flu, try to limit spreading the illness. Do not go to school or work until you recover.

The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. The cost of the vaccine is $25 for injectable three strain vaccine, $29 for preservative free three strain vaccine, $30 for preservative free four strain vaccine or $33 for FluMist nasal spray (a live, preservative-free, four strain vaccine).

Children from six months through eighteen years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $15. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted. To make an appointment at any of our five clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com.

Flu information is also available on an information only line at (616) 742-4FLU (358).

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Be aware of carbon monoxide dangers

 

From the Michigan State Police

 

As temperatures continue to hover around 0 degrees with wind chills at 25 below or colder, citizens are encouraged to be aware of the dangers associated with carbon monoxide poisoning when using alternative heating sources to warm their homes.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas produced when fossil fuels—such as coal, gasoline, natural gas and oil—are burned. In only minutes, deadly fumes can develop in enclosed spaces. When you breathe carbon monoxide, it enters the bloodstream and cuts off delivery of oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues.

The first symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may be headache, dizziness, confusion, fatigue and nausea. As more of this gas is inhaled, it can cause unconsciousness, brain damage and even death. If you do suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move yourself, your family and pets to fresh air quickly and immediately call 911.

“Think twice before using a gas stove or gas heater to heat your house or garage,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD). “Within minutes, the fumes could overcome you and your family and ultimately cause death.”

Families are encouraged to follow these carbon monoxide poisoning prevention tips:

Never use generators, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline or charcoal burning devices inside of homes, basements, garages, or near a window. These appliances give off carbon monoxide, which can build up quickly in a home.

Follow operating and maintenance instructions for fuel-burning appliances and equipment.

Do not use a cooktop or oven to heat your home as these appliances are not designed for this purpose and may result in carbon monoxide poisonings.

Do not let a vehicle run in an attached garage.

Do not sleep in a room with an un-vented gas or kerosene space heater.

Ensure your home has a battery operated carbon monoxide detector, which can be purchased at local home improvement and retail stores.

Get your furnace checked every year to make sure it isn’t leaking carbon monoxide.

For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning and poisoning prevention, visit

www.michigan.gov/carbonmonoxide or www.cdc.gov/co.

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Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning

HEA-Carbon-Monoxide-BrochureLANSING. The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) asks citizens to be aware of the dangers associated with carbon monoxide poisoning as many use generators to power their homes and heaters during the ice storm-related power outage.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas produced when fossil fuels — such as coal, gasoline, natural gas and oil — are burned. In only minutes, deadly fumes can develop in enclosed spaces. When you breathe carbon monoxide, it enters the bloodstream and cuts off delivery of oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues.

The first symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may be headache, dizziness, confusion, fatigue and nausea. As more of this gas is inhaled, it can cause unconsciousness, brain damage and even death. If you do suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move yourself, your family and pets to fresh air quickly and immediately call 911.

“Generators must be placed outside and away from windows or any other area where exhaust can vent back into a living area,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “They should never be placed inside a home or garage.”

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

· DO NOT use an oven or range as a heater.

· DO NOT let the car run in an attached garage.

· DO NOT use a gas or kerosene space heater inside a home, garage, cabin or other enclosed space.

· DO NOT sleep in a room with an un-vented gas or kerosene space heater.

· DO NOT operate fuel-powered engines – such as generators — indoors.

· DO NOT use a barbecue grill indoors.

· DO follow operating and maintenance instructions for fuel-burning appliances and equipment.

For more information about being prepared before, during and after an emergency or disaster, go to the MSP/EMHSD’s emergency preparedness website at www.michigan.gov/beprepared or Twitter page at www.twitter.com/MichEMHS.

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The nation’s most deadly disease

18888618_web(BPT) – Few people understand just how much a threat cardiovascular disease (CVD), or heart disease, can be. Consider this: heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world. Cardiovascular disease claims more lives each year than cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease and accidents combined. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 71 million American adults (33.5 percent)-have high LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol and only one out of every three adults with high LDL cholesterol has the condition under control.

While heart disease is truly dangerous, in many instances the disease is preventable. You may have heard concerns over high cholesterol levels. Elevated cholesterol is among the leading risk factors for CVD. Living a healthy lifestyle that incorporates good nutrition, weight management and getting plenty of physical activity can play an important role in lowering your risk of CVD, according to the American Heart Association.

If you’re interested in reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, these tips can help.

* Move your body. Exercise not only reduces your bad cholesterol levels, it can also increase your HDL, or good cholesterol, levels. The exercise need not be strenuous to enjoy the benefit either. Get a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day. A 45-minute walk can help you reach your goal.

* Cut the saturated fats. Saturated fats have long been linked to high cholesterol levels. As you prepare your next meal, use canola oil or olive oil instead of vegetable oil, butter, shortening or lard.

* Opt for fish. You don’t have to become a vegetarian to achieve a healthy cholesterol level; you just have to make smarter meat selections. Fish and fish oil are loaded with cholesterol-lowering omega-3 acids. The American Heart Association recommends fish as your source for omega-3s and eating fish two or three times a week is a great way to lower your cholesterol.

* Avoid smoking. Smoking has been linked to many health concerns and research shows that smoking has a negative impact on good cholesterol levels and is also a risk factor for heart disease.

Heart disease accounts for one in three deaths in the United States and many cases of the disease are preventable through healthy choices.

There is a clinical research study being conducted to try to help with this disease. The Fourier Study, sponsored by Amgen, is a clinical research study to find out if an investigational medication may reduce the risk of future heart attacks, strokes, related cardiovascular events and death in individuals with a prior history of heart disease. The study is investigating a different approach to reducing LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol.

To learn more about how you can take part in The Fourier Study, call 855-61-STUDY or visit HeartClinicalStudy.com.

 

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Pear Perfection

 

Food Images: Tara Donne

Photo Credit: Tara Donne

Sam Talbot’s “The Sweet Life” is available on amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble, and at book stores nationwide. Photo credit: Sarah Kehoe

Sam Talbot’s “The Sweet Life” is available on amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble, and at book stores nationwide. Photo credit: Sarah Kehoe

(Family Features) For the more than 25 million Americans living with diabetes, food choices are critical to maintaining their health.

 

Chef Sam Talbot, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 12 years old, understands those challenges. But with his new cookbook he proves that diabetics don’t have to sacrifice flavor in order to follow a healthy eating plan.

 

Talbot earned national recognition as the runner-up in Season 2 of Bravo’s hit TV show “Top Chef.” In his new book, “The Sweet Life: Diabetes without Boundaries,” he shares how diabetes has affected — but has not compromised — his life and career, and offers 75 fresh, all-natural recipes that can be enjoyed by both diabetics and non-diabetics.

 

Chef Sam Talbot. Photo credit: Sarah Kehoe

Chef Sam Talbot. Photo credit: Sarah Kehoe

Cooking to Manage Diabetes

Doctors recommend that people with diabetes follow a healthy, well balanced diet that includes plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and carbohydrates that rank lower on the glycemic index (GI).

The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) rates carbohydrates on a scale of 1 to 100 based on how rapidly a food item raises blood sugar levels after eating. Foods that rank high on the glycemic index are digested rapidly, which produces marked fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels. Foods with a low glycemic index are digested slowly and raise blood sugar and insulin levels gradually.

Source: University of Sydney Glycemic Index Group, Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular Biosciences.

“Pears are one of my favorite fruits to use in recipes,” says Talbot. “They are a low GI fruit, they’re high in fiber, and the flavor of a ripe pear is just out of this world. They are incredibly versatile in sweet and savory recipes in all types of world cuisines. They can be part of any meal of the day.”

 

The two recipes here are from Talbot’s book, and showcase the fresh, sweet flavor of pears. For more information, visit www.SamTalbot.com, and for additional pear recipes visit www.usapears.org.

 

— One medium pear provides 24 percent of your day’s fiber, and 10 percent of your day’s vitamin C — for only 100 calories.

 

— There are ten different varieties of USA Pears, each with its own color, flavor and texture.

 

— More than 80 percent of the fresh pears grown in the U.S. are from the Pacific Northwest states of Washington and Oregon. USA Pears are in season from early fall through early summer.

 

Check the Neck for Ripeness 

Ripeness is the key to enjoying pears at their sweetest and juiciest. To judge a pear’s ripeness, USA Pear growers advise you to “check the neck.” Press the neck, or stem end, of the pear. If it yields to gentle pressure, it’s ripe, sweet and juicy. If it feels firm, simply leave the pear at room temperature to ripen within a few days. Don’t refrigerate your pears unless you want to slow their ripening.

 

Photo Credit: Tara Donne.

Photo Credit: Tara Donne.

Yogurt with Pear and Coconut

Makes 4 servings

Juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup Grape-Nuts or granola cereal

1 tablespoon granulated stevia extract, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 ripe pears, such as Anjou or Bosc, slightly firm to the touch

3 cups 2% plain Greek yogurt

 

In medium bowl, combine lemon juice, coconut, graham cracker crumbs, cereal, sweetener and cinnamon.

 

Peel, core and finely chop pears.

 

Spoon yogurt into 4 bowls and top with fruit and coconut mixture, or sprinkle directly onto each individual container of yogurt.

 

Note: This recipe can do double duty as a dessert if you serve it up parfait style. Spoon 1/8 of the pears into the bottom of each of 4 bowls or parfait glasses. Add 1/8 of the cereal mixture, then 1/2 cup of yogurt. Repeat with the remaining pears, cereal mixture, and yogurt.

 

Per Serving: 265 calories, 15 g protein, 38 g carbohydrates, 8 g total fat (6 g saturated), 8 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 157 mg sodium

 

Lavender Poached Pears

Makes 4 servings

2 large ripe pears, such as Bosc or Anjou, slightly firm to the touch

3 tablespoons granulated stevia extract, or to taste

1 tablespoon dried lavender

2 blossoms dried hibiscus

1 chamomile tea bag

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

 

Peel, halve and core pears using a melon baller to scoop out seeds.

 

In large pot, combine 3 cups water, sweetener, lavender, hibiscus, chamomile tea and mint. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add pears and simmer until you can easily pierce pears with the tip of a knife, about 20 minutes.

 

To serve, transfer pear halves to 4 individual bowls and ladle some of the cooking liquid over the top.

 

Per Serving: 72 calories, 1 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 2 mg sodium

 

Recipes excerpted from the book, “The Sweet Life: Diabetes without Boundaries,” by Sam Talbot. Published by Rodale. Copyright © 2011.

 

Captions:

Book Cover Image: Sam Talbot’s “The Sweet Life” is available on amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble, and at book stores nationwide. Photo credit: Sarah Kehoe

 

Chef Sam Talbot. Photo credit: Sarah Kehoe

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Did You Know? Holiday Stress Can Make You Fat

(c) Shutterstock Reducing stress in your life may help you keep off extra weight.

(c) Shutterstock
Reducing stress in your life may help you keep off extra weight.

(StatePoint) During the holidays, it can be all too easy to overeat. But there’s more at play when it comes to packing on pounds this time of year. Another holiday tradition that can affect your weight is stress.

Here are some important things to know about your body’s response to stress:

Stress Hormones

We all have a built-in stress response. It’s a complicated set of physiological reactions that help keep you alive during dangerous situations. Here’s how it’s supposed to work:

You experience an acute stressor. Thousands of years ago, this could have been a tiger trying to eat you. Today, it could be the in-laws coming to stay with you over the holidays. In response, adrenal glands release the stress hormone cortisol into your bloodstream, initiating an increase in blood sugar used for immediate energy to fight, run or slam on your car brakes.

Once the stressor is dealt with, the cortisol leaves your system and things return to their normal metabolic state. But unfortunately today, many of us are constantly stressed, causing significant metabolic imbalances.

Chronic Stress

From when we wake up to when we go to bed, the average person deals with hundreds of low-grade stressful events, like rush hour traffic, projects with impossible deadlines, troubles with kids, spouses or pets.

According to Michael A. Smith, M.D. host of “Healthy Talk” on RadioMD.com and senior health scientist with the Life Extension Foundation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, this state of affairs is chronically elevating cortisol levels, which means blood sugar is constantly being mobilized for energy.

“And when you don’t burn the sugar, it gets stored as body fat,” says Dr. Smith. “This is just one of the metabolic imbalances caused by too much cortisol. There are many other problems caused by chronic stress that can pack on the fat.”

For example, too much cortisol, which results in a drop in serotonin, can drive sugar cravings and significantly increase appetite.

Solutions

New research shows that white kidney beans can suppress appetite. So if you’re craving a snack, have a serving of kidney beans instead of reaching for holiday leftovers or a bag of potato chips.

Feeling tense? Try some stress reduction activities, like jogging, meditation or breathing exercises.

Also, consider adaptogenic herbs, which have long been used for their mood balancing and stress reducing effects. For example, a number of clinical trials demonstrate that repeated administration of rhodiola extract exerts energizing effects that increase mental focus.

For more information about reducing stress and suppressing appetite, visit www.LEF.org/appetite or call the toll-free number 1-855-840-4615.

You may not be able to stop your in-laws from visiting, but understanding how stress affects your body can help you prevent weight gain this holiday season.

 

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It’s Complicated: Diabetes and your dental health

People with diabetes should make sure their dentist is aware of the condition. That way, they can work together to create a personal oral care plan.

People with diabetes should make sure their dentist is aware of the condition. That way, they can work together to create a personal oral care plan.

(NAPS) – A recent study  in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that one out of five cases of total tooth loss in the United States is linked to diabetes. While complications are part of managing diabetes, for the nearly 26 million people in the U.S. living with the condition, tooth loss and other dental health problems are unlikely to be on their radar.

When it comes to diabetes and dental health, research suggests that the connection actually goes both ways. On the one hand, because of lowered resistance to infection and a longer healing process, gum disease appears to be more frequent and more severe among those with diabetes. On the other hand, it appears that treating gum disease in people with diabetes can actually help people improve control over their blood sugar levels.

“A dentist can be a valuable member of a diabetes health care team, along with a primary care provider and other health professionals,” said Alice G. Boghosian, DDS, and an American Dental Association (ADA) consumer advisor.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that 79 million people, or one in four, may have prediabetes, or blood glucose levels that are above average but not quite high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Additionally, of the nearly 26 million Americans with diabetes, about 7 million are still undiagnosed. With those figures in mind, regular health care checkups should be a priority, including dental visits that may help to identify potential signs of diabetes that appear in the mouth.

“In my practice, I’ve seen severly inflamed gums and cases of gum disease that have, together with a patient’s medical history, prompted a discussion about whether there is a potential risk of diabetes,” said Dr. Boghosian. “Oral health and overall health are connected, and as a dentist, it’s my job to flag signs of poor oral health that might also signal other serious health conditions.”

People with diabetes should make sure their dentist is aware of the condition, and together, create a personal oral care plan. Also, be sure to ask your dentist how you can check for signs of gum disease at home in between dental checkups.

Regardless of whether you have diabetes, practicing good oral care is essential to a healthy lifestyle. The ADA urges you to make mouth-healthy habits a priority.

Be sure to:

• Brush for two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste

• Floss daily

• Eat a healthy diet

• Visit your dentist regularly.

For more information on diabetes and oral health, please visit www.mouthhealthy.org

 

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