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8 Facts About Diabetes That Can Save Your Life

8 Facts About Diabetes That Can Save Your Life

8 Facts About Diabetes That Can Save Your Life

En español l Actress S. Epatha Merkerson still remembers the moment a doctor took her aside and said he needed to talk to her.
Merkerson, best known as Lt. Anita Van Buren on Law & Order, had volunteered at a health event in Washington and, with cameras rolling, had agreed to be tested for type 2 diabetes — a way to encourage people at risk to see their doctors.
When the doctor pulled her aside, "I thought he wanted to get a photo with me or an autograph," Merkerson says with a laugh. "In fact, he told me that my blood sugar levels were way too high. I went to my doctor and discovered that I had type 2 diabetes."
In retrospect, she admits, she shouldn't have been surprised. "My dad died of complications of diabetes. My grandmother went blind because of diabetes. I had an uncle with amputations." Like many, she'd ignored some classic warning signs — excessive thirst and frequent urination. Twelve years later, the Emmy Award-winning actress has joined forces with drugmaker Merck in an initiative called America's Diabetes Challenge, to spread the word about prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.
"What I've learned is that this is a manageable disease," Merkerson says. It's also a preventable one. Yet type 2 diabetes continues to exact a terrible toll. Untreated, diabetes can damage the retina, causing blindness, and destroy the kidneys. Over time, abnormally high blood sugar levels can reduce circulation to the limbs, ultimately necessitating amputations. Recent research links type 2 diabetes to a higher risk of dementia. People with diabetes are also up to four tim Continue reading

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5 Surprising Facts About Diabetes

5 Surprising Facts About Diabetes

"Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children after asthma, but the percentage of kids who have it is still relatively low," says Parents advisor Lori Laffel, MD, chief of the pediatric, adolescent, and young-adult section at Harvard's Joslin Diabetes Center. Here are five important truths about this serious illness.
Fact: Most Children Who Get Diabetes Aren't Fat
Type 2 diabetes, which is usually triggered by obesity, has gotten a lot of press because it used to strike only adults and is now being diagnosed in kids as young as 6, says Dr. Laffel. Alarming as that is, a greater number of kids get type 1, an autoimmune disease that's been rising 4 percent a year since the 1970s -- especially in young kids. Only 3,700 children are diagnosed with type 2 every year compared with 15,000 who develop type 1, according to a large study that provides the first detailed look at diabetes in U.S. kids. In many ways, the two forms of diabetes are very different. In type 1, which has no known cause, the immune system mistakenly destroys healthy cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, the hormone that helps the body get energy from food. To make up for the shortfall, children typically need injections of insulin several times a day. In type 2, the pancreas usually makes plenty of insulin (at least at first), but cells throughout the body have trouble using it -- a condition known as insulin resistance. But no matter what the type, diabetes causes high blood-sugar levels when glucose from food -- the body's equivalent of gasoline for a car -- builds up because it can Continue reading

Preventing Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

Preventing Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

When was the last time you had a chat with your doctor about your liver? Can’t remember? Maybe never? Well, it’s probably time to do so. Most people who have diabetes think very little about the connection between liver disease and Type 2 diabetes. But statistics show that at least 50% of those with Type 2 will develop fatty liver disease, and some research shows that figure may even be as high as 70%.
What is fatty liver disease?
To be more exact, fatty liver disease is technically called “non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” or NAFLD, for short. As the name implies, it’s characterized by a buildup of fat in the liver that’s unrelated to drinking alcohol. The extent of fat buildup can determine the extent of liver damage, ranging from a small accumulation of fat (called steatosis) to a large amount that causes inflammation (called steatohepatitis). Without treatment, NAFLD can progress to cirrhosis (chronic scarring and damage), liver failure, and possibly liver cancer.
What causes NAFLD?
NAFLD is becoming increasingly common; in fact, it’s the most common type of liver disease in the developed world. It’s also a very complex condition. There’s no one specific cause, but it appears that this disease is linked to:
• Being overweight or obese
• Having insulin resistance (a condition whereby the body doesn’t use its own insulin properly)
• Having high blood sugar levels (prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes)
• Having high levels of fat, called triglycerides, in the blood
• Having sleep apnea
• Having PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
In addition, NAFLD Continue reading

Sex and Diabetes

Sex and Diabetes

When my neighbor Leon was diagnosed with diabetes, he had one fear. “Sex is very important to me,” he said. “And to my wife, Carol. Will I still be able to have sex with diabetes?”
Leon has a legitimate concern. According to some estimates, up to 75% of men and 50% of women with diabetes develop sexual problems at some point. But the answer is yes. Leon and Carol may have to make some changes, but they can have good sex with diabetes. You can too.
Diabetes’ effect on sex
Poorly controlled diabetes can hurt your love life in several ways.
• High blood sugars can block blood vessels and damage nerves in the genital organs. These complications can prevent or weaken erections and ejaculation in men. They can dry up lubrication, cause painful intercourse, or prevent orgasm in women.
• Hormonal changes such as low testosterone levels can take away sexual desire. Men with diabetes are twice as likely to have a low testosterone level as men without diabetes.
• Diabetes-related symptoms, such as fatigue, numbness, or pain, may make sex difficult or less pleasurable.
• The psychological effects of diabetes may stop people’s sexuality. “Such things as feeling unattractive, blaming yourself for diabetes, and depression may damage both sexual desire and function. So can stress over health, money problems, and family issues,” I noted after hearing a talk by sexologist Dr. Mitchell Tepper.
• The effects of medications, especially drugs for high blood pressure and depression, can interfere with sexual function and desire.
• Low blood glucose can also interfere w Continue reading

Insulin: Potential Negative Consequences of Early Routine Use in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes

Insulin: Potential Negative Consequences of Early Routine Use in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes

The lack of adequate insulin secretion characterizes all hyperglycemic states. When insulin action is normal, as in type 1 diabetes, there is a near total loss of insulin secretory function. In type 2 diabetes, the abnormalities in insulin secretion are multiple. One of the initial defects is a loss of the early phase of meal-stimulated insulin secretion. This is followed by an inability of the β-cell to increase insulin secretion sufficient to overcome hepatic and peripheral insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by a progressive decrease in both β-cell mass and secretory function so that, in most individuals, absolute insulin deficiency occurs in the late stages of the disease.
It would seem logical that the ideal treatment for type 2 diabetes should be early and continuing insulin therapy. Unfortunately, there are several characteristics of insulin treatment and insulin action in type 2 diabetes that limit the usefulness of insulin treatment and that suggest that chronic insulin therapy is best used in the later stages of diabetes when there is an absolute deficiency of insulin.
In normal physiology, β-cell insulin secretion is coupled immediately with changes in the plasma glucose level (1). The secretory response is rapid (within a minute or two), and because the half-life of insulin is ~5 min, there is little lag time in the glucose regulatory system. Endogenously secreted insulin goes via the portal vein to the liver, where 30–80% of it is either metabolized or used (2). The portal vein-to-peripheral arterial insulin ratio is ~2:1. The administrati Continue reading

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