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How Service Dogs Help Canadians Living With Diabetes

How service dogs help Canadians living with diabetes

How service dogs help Canadians living with diabetes

Trained noses help diabetes service dogs sniff out their owners’ low blood sugar – and even save their lives. That’s dogged determination.
Ukita is a 2-year-old yellow Labrador retriever who loves hitting the golf course with her owner, Cory Carter, an electrician from Langley, B.C. Off the golf course, she follows Carter from site to site, joyfully wagging her tail and occasionally carrying his tool belt. While Carter is hard at work wiring homes, Ukita works too, vigilantly smelling Carter’s breath to detect if his blood sugar suddenly drops.
“I look at [having a diabetes alert dog] as another tool in the fight against diabetes, especially if you’re at your last straw,” says Carter.
Carter, 28, has had type 1 diabetes since he was 10. When his blood sugar drops, he experiences hypoglycemia, a dangerous condition that can cause convulsions or even a coma. Most people notice when their blood sugar drops: Their hands tremble, they feel dizzy and they may even break into a cold sweat. But some people with diabetes, like Carter, are hypoglycemic-unaware. They don’t show the typical signs of hypoglycemia, so they need to be extra-vigilant about monitoring their blood-sugar levels.
Learn more about the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes
Carter has used a series of tools to treat his diabetes since his diagnosis, but in recent years, he felt he needed more help. So last January, Carter and his wife flew from Langley to Oakville, Ontario to meet Ukita, one of the Lions Foundation of Canada’s diabetes alert dogs.
Training a diabetes service dog
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Cost of insulin just one hurdle for seniors with diabetes

Cost of insulin just one hurdle for seniors with diabetes

Dolores Suvak retired from her job as a high school English teacher in the Woodland Hills School District in 2006 with a generous retirement package that included an additional 10 years of health coverage under her school employees’ plan.
Then came year 11.
Ms. Suvak, 68, is diabetic, one of an estimated 11.2 million seniors — 25.9 percent of Americans 65 or older, according to the American Diabetes Association — who have the condition that can result in serious infections as well as nerve, kidney and eye damage, and life-threatening heart disease.
For her, diabetes has meant daily testing, multiple injections and regular monitoring of her blood sugar.
It also has meant the expense of test strips, lancets, needles and life-sustaining insulin, all of which have dug deep into the fixed retirement income that she and her husband Ronald live on. The switch to Medicare came with a financial trapdoor — Medicare Part D’s prescription drug “doughnut hole” coverage gap — that she says doubled her diabetes-related costs that first year.
“It knocked the socks off of me. It just devastated me,” the Swissvale resident said last week.
Patients and providers alike have noted the rising cost of insulin, which the American Diabetes Association says nearly tripled in price between 2002 and 2013.
But that is only one of the hurdles that seniors with diabetes face. There’s also the emergence of high-deductible insurance plans, shifting more of the cost of care to patients, plus formularies that may change which insulin brands are covered at a lower cost.
“This isn’t j Continue reading

Alzheimer’s: Is It Diabetes of the Brain?

Alzheimer’s: Is It Diabetes of the Brain?

Could what we eat be killing our brains? Or, to put it another way, could Alzheimer’s really be Type 3 diabetes?
The theory is that the factors in our diet and the environment that’s causing the Type 2 diabetes epidemic is also playing a role in the increasing rate of Alzheimer’s — resulting in a third form of diabetes, Type 3 brain diabetes.
It’s an intriguing — some might say controversial — theory. In any case, it’s certainly one more reason to put down that soda and cut back on the bacon cheeseburgers.
What exactly is diabetes? It’s a disorder in which the body can’t use insulin properly to take up sugar in the blood for energy. The result is a dangerous build-up of sugar, which can damage other organs.
Right now there are two recognized types of diabetes — Type 1, which you’re born with, and Type 2, which develops later, mostly because of bad eating habits, particularly junk food and sugary beverages, and obesity. No surprise — the vast majority of diabetes in this country is Type 2.
The thinking behind Type 3 goes like this: The brain, like the rest of the body, needs insulin to help provide its cells with energy. But with Alzheimer’s, the insulin apparently is blocked from helping the brain. The result is that brain cells literally starve to death.
Or, as Suzanne De La Monte, M.D., a neuropathologist at Brown University, first explained in 2005 after examining Alzheimer’s patients’ brains, “Insulin disappears early and dramatically in Alzheimer’s disease. In the most advanced stage of Alzheimer’s, insulin receptors were nearly 80 Continue reading

Could a common blood pressure drug completely reverse diabetes?

Could a common blood pressure drug completely reverse diabetes?

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US, raising risks for heart attack, blindness, kidney disease and limb amputation. But researchers who have shown that a common blood pressure drug totally reverses diabetes in mice are about to begin a new clinical trial to see if it can do the same for humans.
If the trial is successful, it could herald the first "cure" for an incurable disease that affects 12.3% of Americans over the age of 20 and costs the nation $245 billion each year.
The key to the groundbreaking approach that has been proven effective in mice are beta cells, which the researchers explain are "critical" in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. These cells are progressively lost in the wake of the disease due to programmed cell death, though the precise triggers for the deaths were previously unknown.
The researchers, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and led by Dr. Anath Shalev, have been working on this research for over a decade in UAB's Comprehensive Diabetes Center.
They explain that their previous research has shown that high blood sugar causes an overproduction of a protein called TXNIP - which is increased within beta cells in response to diabetes. Too much TXNIP in pancreatic beta cells leads to their deaths, stopping the body's efforts to produce insulin and further promoting diabetes.
However, in animal models, the team has found that verapamil - used to treat high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and migraine headaches - lowers TXNIP levels in beta cells.
In fact, in mice with established diabetes and blood sugars over 300 mg/ Continue reading

Stop Diabetes® From Knocking You Off Your Feet

Stop Diabetes® From Knocking You Off Your Feet

Did you know that April is Limb Loss Awareness Month?
People with diabetes can develop many different foot problems, and even seemingly simple ones can lead to serious complications. The reason? Many people with diabetes have artery disease, which reduces blood flow to the feet. Many also have nerve disease, called neuropathy, which reduces sensation, making it harder to tell when something’s wrong.
Together, these problems make it easy to get ulcers and infections that may lead to amputation. In fact, more than 60 percent of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.
The good news is that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), amputations have declined significantly among U.S. adults with diabetes in recent years. This is largely due to better foot care and overall diabetes management—proving that taking care of yourself and your feet can go a long way.
Most people can prevent serious foot troubles by following some simple steps. So here are the do’s and don’ts of foot care:
Keep your blood glucose in your target range. That’s the best way to prevent most diabetes complications.
Have your health care provider perform a complete foot exam at least once a year.
Check your bare feet daily. Look for red spots, cuts, swelling and blisters. If you cannot see the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone for help.
Wash your feet every day. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes. Using a pumice stone (on wet skin) every day will help keep calluses under control.
Keep your skin soft and smooth by rubbin Continue reading

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