Diabetes Websites: Surfing Diabetes on the Internet

Taking a Walk on the Net

My grandmother had diabetes and sometimes she took me to the doctor with her. The visits weren’t so bad because I stayed in the waiting room looking at the pictures on the wall, talking to the other people waiting and reading the magazines. I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers but my logic a s a kid was that we were all there together for the same thing – to see the doctor so we were sort of a group and not strangers.

At that time the internet hadn’t exploded and hadn’t gotten to the point where you could get a ton of information in just a few minutes by going on a computer and just clicking once you found what you needed.

Today, the internet is astounding. There are many internet companies such a Google, Yahoo and a whole lot more. You can find just about anything you need if you have a computer or use one at the library.

My grandmother died of complications from diabetes. It was before the internet was jam packed with information. Her information came from the doctor and she trusted him.

If you go onto Google right now and type in diabetes, the first page alone will bring up about 13 entries in the middle (they are usually from sources who won’t try to advertise, sell you something or somehow get your money. There are about 10 entries on the right hand margin of the page so unless you need to buy something stay away from these. They are selling and for every sale Google or Yahoo or whomever their information is on, gets some money. If you decide to buy something compare well and know that the company is reputable.

As for the main information just on page 1, there is information from the American Diabetes Association, WebMD Diabetes Center, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Mayo Clinic, Medicine Plus: Diabetes (operated by NIH), Diabetes Risks, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment by emedicinehealth.com.

This is just the first page and there is enough information here to look at your symptoms if you haven’t been diagnosed and decide if you should go to the doctor. There is enough information for you to figure out what to ask the doctor, what to eat and what not to eat, what medications are available and how they work, and more.

There are at least 20 more pages just like this one, including news on various issues that have to do with diabetes including discoveries of new medications that do less harm to the body and control diabetes more efficiently.

Not to harp on it, but this is all on the first page. You can click at the very top of the page on “news” and you’ll get important news on the latest discoveries and treatments, efforts to get more help and funding for diabetes, and more.

So when you have even 15 quiet minutes, get on the computer, type in diabetes when your search engine comes up and find the things you need to know. It’s a great experience, answers questions and is much faster than the old way.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes is a very insidious disease and most people have diabetes or pre-diabetes before they or their doctor realize it. Why? In most cases people begin to experience a symptom or two and can attribute it to something else. For instance, if you start to experience extreme thirst, especially on a regular basis, you may attribute it to the food you are eating. For instance, garlic or spicy food can cause extra thirst, so you might not attribute the thirst from diabetes. Why would you?

Another symptom of diabetes is excessive urination. Most people don’t associate that issue with diabetes. Some men associate it with prostrate issues. Other individuals associate it with the fact that they drink a lot of water or other liquids, which goes back to excessive thirst and drinking a lot.

Quite often individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes experience tingling in their hands arms and eventually pain in their feet. Instead of associating these symptoms of diabetes, they think of carpal-tunnel, bad shoes and other issues when in reality, the problem could be neuropathy – damage to the nerves – due to diabetes. It is essential to check with your doctor regarding this – especially if your feet are tingling, burning, feeling like you are walking on sand or throbbing. This is usually a sign that you may have diabetes.

There used to be few treatments for diabetes, but now ther are any number of medications available, including insulin, to treat the symptoms. There are special diets, various medications to deal with the neuropathy, pain and other related issues.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or any combination of them see your doctor and let him or her know. The reason that diabetes is often not diagnosed is that the symptoms are never reported to the doctor. If you discuss this with your doctor and he/she does not order tests to see if you have diabetes, push harder for one. If that does not work, consult another doctor for a second opinion. Many internists and endocrinologists deal with diabetes a great deal and are experts in identifying and treating the disease.

Living With Diabetes

Diabetes starts long before the symptoms appear. The sooner your doctor can start tracking blood glucose levels, the sooner you can start avoiding diabetes. Researchers have now found after tracking over 6,500 people that glucose levels begin to change up to 13 years before the onset of diabetes. If it is possible to deal with those changes early, it is possible to change diet, exercise and a few other lifestyle habits that will delay or eliminate the chances of a person getting diabetes.

If you already have symptoms such as excessive thirst, tingling or pain in your hands and feet, having to urinate more than often or vision changes, check with your doctor as soon as possible and get tested. Getting tested for diabetes has become much more simple than in the past and the results are more accurate. Once you know if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes you will be able to start treating it so that it does less damage to your body.

Since diabetes is so insidious, it is important to look for the signs in the paragraph above. Diabetes is different for everyone, but diet, exercise, regular visits to your doctor, using a glucose monitor daily – as many times as your doctor prescribes – and taking any medication or insulin your doctor gives you is essential to warding off more serious problems and complications.

Some people have neuropathy as a result of diabetes. Usually their feet tingle, burn or hurt and their hands and sometimes arms tingle or have throbbing pain. This is because the nerves are being damaged by the diabetes. Your doctor can prescribe medication that will deal with both the pain and work with the nerves.
There are many more choices of medication and treatment for diabetes than there were even a decade ago.

A close family friend was diagnosed with diabetes many years ago when the options were basically oral medication or insulin shots. I remember how painful the glucose checks were because the lancets were much more midievel than they are now. She took pills and changed her diet and finally had to go on insulin shots. Other than that and some extra exercise – in her case, walking more – she lived for many years after the diagnosis. When she finally had to go on dialysis, at first she went to the hospital to have it done and then she got a portable dialysis machine that she could use at home. When her feet hurt, she used an electric wheel chair when she went shopping every week.

She lived a full life with her children and grandchildren and died in her early 80’s which is considered at least 2 years longer than average. She lived to see her 4th grandchild turn 1. That was her last grandchild, so this was a special gift. She told me that she knew she was going to die soon because of some of the acute changes in her body but she said she was OK with dying because she had a long life, traveled, had a wonderful husband, children and grandchildren and had outlived most of her friends. She was not unhappy about dying, but she said it wouldn’t be her first choice. What she did say that was profound was that because she did what her doctor said, changed her diet, lost weight early in the game and took her glucose measurements and her medication like clockwowrk every day, she was in charge of her diabetes, it was not in charge of her. She said that because of this, she kept the more difficult symptoms under control much longer and she lived much longer, too.

When you hear someone who has diabetes and is at the end of their life and knows it telling you these things, it is sobering. What she said has changed my life and the lives of others, helping them to live healthier – either to avoid diabetes or to control their diabetes. Whether you have diabetes or not, the information she gave me is invaluable for all of us.

Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment

Diabetes brings on a host of issues including the nerve pain called diabetic neuropathy. If you are suffering from diabetic neuropathy treatment is important.

Some symptoms og diabetic neuropathy are obvious: pain in your feet. But more subtle signs of neuropathy are just as critical to notice and get treatment for.

“We ask whether people are having unusual tingling or numbness,” says Dace L. Trence, MD, an endocrinologist and director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Those symptoms are signs of possible nerve damage, and are just as important as nerve pain.
Nerve pain and damage in your hands or feet is called peripheral neuropathy.

Continued glucose control can help reduce the possible risk of complications such as diabetic neuropathy, says the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Nerve damage caused by diabetes generally occurs over years and is due to a prolonged high blood sugars, as well as other factors. If you are doing what you can to control your diabetes, it will help to control your neuropathy and protect your nerves, as well.

There are three main things that you can do to keep your diabetic neuropathy and diabetes under control:

Get – and keep – Your Blood Sugar Under Control
The experts all agree: the first step in treating diabetic nerve pain is to bring your glucose levels under control.

The best ways to do this are to use your glucose meter throughout the day. “We suggest that people get a better picture of what’s happening to their blood sugar levels throughout the day,” says Trence. “Sometimes that can be helpful, particularly if the person hasn’t been checking that frequently.”

In addition, Meet your target.
While individual blood glucose goals may vary, the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) gives these general guidelines:
before meals: 90 – 130 mg/dL
1 to 2 hours after starting a meal: less than 180 mg/dL
Your doctor may have advised different numbers for you, based on your symptoms of nerve pain and other diabetes complications. Always follow your doctor’s specific advice on the glucose goal that’s right for you.

Make sure to Eat right.
A diet that helps treat nerve pain is really no different than a good, healthy, balanced diet, says Trence. “The emphasis is really on blood sugar control,” she says. A good diet outlines what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and allows for healthy snacks.

Be active and exercise.
Try to be active for 30 minutes on most days. Exercise helps to lower your blood sugar, so it’s a way to help manage diabetes complications like nerve pain – and help keep your blood pressure and blood fats under control. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.

Take the A1c test.
In addition to your glucose meter, this test shows whether you’re controlling your blood sugar over time. The A1c test is a simple blood test that measures the average amount of glucose in your blood for the previous 2 to 3 months, and the NDIC recommends taking it at least twice a year. But you can do it more often. “Most of us are really believing it should be done every 3 to 4 months,” says Trence. “It’s such a powerful piece of information to have, to complement a patient’s own blood sugars.”

Strict blood sugar control means an average level of A1c of less than 7%. If your test results are higher than 8%, you should talk to your doctor about any necessary changes in how you’re managing your diabetes. An A1c higher than 7% means that you have a greater chance of eye disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage.

Consider your diabetes medications.
“Sometimes, the blood sugar just has not achieved the target that is ideal,” says Trence, “so we switch therapies to get better control.” A side benefit may be relief from nerve pain. In a recent study in Diabetes Care, published by the ADA, people who used insulin injections for strict glucose control were less likely to get neuropathy. And those on an intensive regimen of taking insulin 3 or more times a day lowered their chances of tingling, burning, and other symptoms of neuropathy by 64% – a significant benefitn
Make sure to treat your nerve pain. There are many options to soothe diabetic nerve pain, depending on your symptoms and their severity.

Talk to your doctor about self care.
Warm baths and frequent walks, for some people, can relieve mild symptoms of peripheral nerve pain. Ask your doctor if baths and walks are safe for you, since they could interfere with healing if you have cuts or sores in your feet. Wear shoes that fit well and allow your toes to move.

Ask about pain medications.
Pain can be a difficult symptom to control, so it may take time to find the right treatment for you. Cymbalta and Lyrica are the only FDA-approved medications for the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy; however, your doctor might suggest other treatments thar can be effective for pain control including
Prescription-strength nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Narcotics, Antidepressants such as Amitril, Norpramin or Tofranil.Antiseizure medications such as Dilantin, Tegretol, Neurontin or Lamictal
or other medications block or reduce the release of chemicals that cause pain to be transmitted.

You can also try other therapies. Acupuncture works to treat nerve pain for some people, says Trence, as does anodyne therapy, a treatment that uses infrared light to soothe pain, usually done in a physical therapy office.

“[Vitamin] B-12 actually can work,” says Trence. “The problem is that if you take too much of it, it can cause its own neuropathies.”

Surgical decompression of multiple peripheral nerves (called the Dellon procedure) is an alternative method for treating diabetic neuropathy.

Once your nerve pain is under control, there are things you can do to try to delay further damage to your nerves. Keep close daily control of your glucose, and avoid big swings in blood sugar. Keep exercising regularly and eating right. Lose weight if you need to, since excess weight puts more pressure on painful feet. Take special care of your feet -which is essential since nerve damage is so common in the feet.

Reaching Out to Help With Diabetes

There are nearly 24 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes and there are more efforts to help unify the diabetes community and help them live healthier lives. The American Diabetes Wholesale a diabetes supply company trying to keep diabetes managable for all diabetics, especially the uninsured, has partnered with Charlie Kimball, the 24 year old Firestone Indy Lights Race Car Driver who has Type 1 diabetes. They have announced the launch of GlucoStories and Charlie Kimball Share Your Story Contest.

The goal is to bring people living with diabetes together and provide them with a way to share their personal experiences. The contest is asking people to explain how their diabetes has affected their lives and the grand prize winner will receive the a trip to the Firestone Indy Lights Championship Race at the Homestead- Miami Speedway on Friday, October 9, 1009 in Florida.

“Reaching out and supporting people in the diabetes community is what American Diabetes Wholesale is all about,” said Chris Maguire, Vice President of American Diabetes Wholesale. “GlucoStories is an extension of our commitment and partnering with Charlie Kimball to bring this program to the community was a win-win for everyone involved.”

Charlie was diagnosed in 2007 at the age of 22, but has been involved in competetive racing since he was 9 years old. He has some special accommodations to help him continue racing, including a continuous glucose monitoring system installed on that shows his glucose levels constantly on his steering wheel. He also has a drink pack installed in his cockpit in case he needs to sip orange juice if his blood sugar is low when he is driving.

“Diabetes doesn’t slow me down and is as much a part of my life as racing. Being able to merge the two is an incredible opportunity,” said Charlie Kimball, Professional Indy Lights Race Car Driver. “My hope is that by sharing my story, other people will be comfortable and open about sharing theirs. We’re all working towards the same goal of finding a cure and living a healthy, productive and successful life in the meantime.”

OFFICIAL INFORMATION

With the support of Home Diagnostics, Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Diabetic Rockstar, American Diabetes Wholesale and other partners, GlucoStories is a platform for people with diabetes or those who support people living with diabetes to inspire and feel inspired about living the best life possible. To learn more about the prizes, rules and to enter the contest, please visit www.glucostories.com and share your experiences with diabetes. Contest and story submissions deadline is July 6, 1007 Midnight, EST.

GlucoStories Contest Rules: no purchase necessary. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.), 13 years and older who did not purchase any equipment for purposes of entering the promotion and are not a practicing physician at time of entry. Void where prohibited. Enter Contest by: 7/6/09. Sweepstakes starts 7/15/09 and ends 8/17/09. For Official Rules, odds disclosure and prize descriptions, visit http://www.glucostories.com. Sponsor: American Diabetes Wholesale, 2501 NW 34th Place, Suite 35, Pompano Beach, FL 33069.
Reaching Out to Help with Diabetes

Recent Healthcare Woes and Diabetes

We are constantly keeping watch regarding problems with healthcare – especially with seniors and those who are disabled – these days. It is obvious to anyone who reads the papers, uses the internet or watches the news that there are some serious problems with healthcare and Medicare that lawmakers have no choice but to work on and they are trying to figure it all out. Meanwhile, there are real people with some serious problems falling through the cracks. The following editorial from Kalamazoo, Michigan shows just how serious the situation is. I usually don’t reprint other people’s stories, but this one is critically important and the credits are on the bottom of the page. Thank you Joyce Pines from the Kalamazoo Gazette for bringing situations this important to our attention. We all need to know what is happening not only in Kalamazoo, but in cities and towns throughout the country, a thousand fold.

Three different perspectives on health care crossed my desk Monday — a call from a woman who has been notified that her Medicaid payments are being cut, an e-mail implying that President Obama’s health proposals are out to cut Medicare and leave senior citizens to fend for themselves and an editorial board meeting with state Sen. Tom George about a package of bills he’s introduced in the Michigan Senate to expand health care coverage to more state citizens.

Let’s start with the phone call. A 47-year-old Kalamazoo resident called to discuss her dilemma which is: pay the rent or buy prescribed medications. She has diabetes which has left her blind. She is on five different medications which cost more than $1,200 a month by the time you add up the cost of both the pills and the supplies she needs to take those pills and monitor her condition (needles, test strips, alcohol swabs). She is disabled.

She is married but her husband, a veteran, fell in 2005 and suffered a severe spinal cord injury. He is also permanently disabled. Their total income from Medicaid, Social Security and such is $1,100 a month. They also receive food assistance.

In April, the state sent her a letter explaining her Medicaid benefits were going to be subject to a “spend down.” Her explanation of what that means is that basically the state says she has to pay the next $618 for her medication before the state payments will kick back in.

As she doesn’t know where the $618 is going to come from, she is likely to skip the medication for awhile, which is probably not a good idea given that her diabetes is so severe it caused her to go blind.

But that is a real world example of what happens when the state budget is cut.

Getting health care spending under control has been a priority for Tom George for all of the time I have known him as a state senator representing the 20th District, which is all of Kalamazoo County and a small piece of Van Buren County.

In short, he believes that Michigan residents should be encouraged to do things that will help them be healthy — like not smoke, exercise regularly and get appropriate health screenings. During the editorial board meeting Monday he said studies show that between 40 and 70 percent of health care costs are related to behaviors like smoking, not exercising, etc.

At the same time he believes there is an obligation to provide health care to all of Michigan’s citizens. To that end, he has worked with others to create a package of bills to address the concerns of insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield and also the need to provide affordable insurance to as many people as possible.

He would prefer that each state create a workable system for its residents instead of creating a national single-payer system that would, in essence, give everyone health care but without an incentive to take better care of themselves. “If Republicans sit on their hands, we’ll end up with a national single-payer system,” he said.

What George does not have an answer for, right now, is that phone call I received from the woman with diabetes. Her story illustrates another aspect of the health care problem. A person has an illness, in this case diabetes, that requires an expenditure of more than $1,200 a month to control — that’s $14,400 a year. My question to him and in general is why does medication for an illness that is pretty common cost so much? How can we ever have an affordable system while the cost of medical procedures and medications continues to skyrocket?

George advocates health care plans that give people a financial incentive to quit smoking, exercise every week and get regular health screenings. I don’t object to that.

But I think the diabetic who called about her Medicaid changes would suggest that forcing anyone to choose between keeping a roof over their head or filling their prescriptions also endangers lives and may contribute to their early demise.

We need to ask tough questions about health care and we can start with carefully examining both the state legislation and the national legislation now being offered. Read up on it and contact your legislators, get involved and write responsible e-mails to promote discussion, not fright.

Health care is definitely the giant elephant in the room that everyone is having trouble talking about
Posted by Joyce Pines | Kalamazoo Gazette

Study Shows Diabetes Raises Risk of Pancreatitis

People with type 2 diabetes have an almost triple risk of acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and two-fold greater risk of biliary disease (disease of the gallbladder and bile ducts), compared with people without diabetes, a study shows.

“The increased risk of pancreatitis for patients with type 2 diabetes…combined with the increasing prevalence of diabetes and the associated risk factors, may be contributing to a meaningful increase in the incidence of acute pancreatitis in the US,” Dr. Gary L. Bloomgren, at Amylin Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, California, and colleagues suggest in the journal Diabetes Care.

Their study was supported by Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly, producers of the diabetes drug exenatide (Byetta), which has been associated with spontaneous reports of acute pancreatitis, which the investigators say “prompted this investigation.”

Bloomgren and his colleagues used a nationwide managed care claims database that included nearly one million adults enrolled for at least 12 continuous months between 1999 and 2005. There were 337,067 patients with type 2 diabetes and a similar number of people without diabetes.

According to the investigators, the incidence of pancreatitis was nearly 3 times higher, and the incidence of biliary disease nearly 2 times higher, in diabetics compared to non-diabetics. This is a significant amount, especially when you are talking about millions of people.Though there were a million people in the stucy, they obviously represent only a sample population of individuals with type 2 diabetes who are prone to pancreatitis. gall bladder amd bo;e duct disease.

For both conditions, younger diabetics (aged 18 to 30 years old) had the highest risk of developing pancreatitis or biliary disease.

Dibetes, Obesity and the Workplace

A study in the U.S. recently found that there was a big difference in the way and the amount that people who had diabetes and were also obese worked compared to those who were of lower weight and didn’t have diabetes or had controlled diabetes..

Researchers surveyed 7,338 working adults about missed work time, reduced work effectiveness and experienced 20 to 34 percent of impairment of daily activities. The results they discovered showed that people who were obese and had type 2 diabetes lost 11 to 15 percent of work time (about 5.9 hours a week) because of health problems, compared with 9 percent of work time (about 3.6 hours a week) lost by people in a lower weight range.

The survey also found that obese people with type 2 diabetes rreported difficulty and obstacles in doing daily activities such as working with children, shoppng and exercising.and experienced 20 to 34 percent of impairment of daily activities in general.. he findings are in the May/June issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

“From an employer’s perspective, this study provides evidence that workplace wellness programs that include weight loss and weight management would be beneficial for obese employees with or at risk for diabetes,” Kathleen Fox, president of Strategic Healthcare Solutions and a co-author of the study, said in a news release from the Center for the Advancement of Health.

The study supports previously published research that found “the heavier people are, the most lost productivity at work,” Anne Wolf, an instructor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, who specializes in researching the economic effects of obesity, said in the news release. This study was different, she said, in that it found an independent effect of diabetes on worker productivity.

“Employers who spend money in a lifestyle intervention will find their investment returned to them in the form of increased productivity and reduced absenteeism,” Wolf said.

Eye Problems Linked to Diabetes

Many U.S. Hispanics with diabetes are unaware that a potential complication of their condition is eye disease, and they do not get regular eye exams that could identify any problems.

Eye disease is present in many individuals with diabetes but often they have not been diagnosed with diabetes or they assume the problems have to do with needing reading glasses or newer glasses and an eye exam.

That’s the finding of a new survey led by Johns Hopkins University, published in the current Archives of Ophthalmology. The researchers focused on Hispanics because their rate of diabetes is especially high – 1.9 times the rate in non-Hispanic white people – and because for some, the language barrier hinders discussion and understanding about the condition.

Even with bi-lingual or Spanish language conversations only 36 percent of newly diagnosed diabetics knew that. In addition, the percentage climbed to 52 percent among those who’d known they had diabetes for more than a year. Just 30 percent of the diabetics had been to the eye doctor in the previous year.

There are several reasons for this situation including lack of eye-care medical coverage, inability to obtain affordable private insurance or coverage at work, and inability to get medicaid due to various immigration and paperwork issues.

It is essential to begin taking care of your eyes as soon as you notice any sort of problem including blurred or fuzy vision, twitching, pain or anything else out of the ordinary. Often, the situation can be caught i time to keep the eyes from getting worse. In many cases, getting your eyes checked can identify the fact that you have diabetes, helping to save your health on a larger scale.

Don’t ignore your eyes. They can tell you and your doctor a lot about your health.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Diabetes

There are a lot of things that are connected to diabetes.  Everything from imbalanced diet to lack of exercise is blamed for causing or increasing diabetes.  Under the diet category, researchers are now calling attention to Vitamin D deficiency as a contributor to diabetes.

Vitamin D is linked to sunlight.  One of the issues that helps create vitamin D deficiency is, logically, not getting outside enough or not drinking enough milk or eating enough foods that contain high levels of vitamin D.  Researchers have determined that many people who are deficient in vitamin D live in areas such as Main or Seattle where the weather keeps people inside most of the year. 

Vitamin D deficiency has increased to the point where the medical community is calling this deficiency an epidemic.  Since Vitamin D helps keep the immune system healthy and since we don’t produce vitamin D in our skin between the months of November to March, our levels drop and we need to build them up during the other months of the year.
The average fair-skinned person used to get the equivalent of 10,000 IU (international units) by spending 10 to 15 minutes outdoors a few times a week. This takes a good bit of work. Some climates have less sunlight than others and people either don’t spend enough time outdoors or wear sunscreen when they do, which prevents synthesis of vitamin D.
As a result, the American Academy of Pediatrics has doubled its recommended minimum daily intake of vitamin D for infants, children and teens from 200 IU to 400 IU.  For adults, the government recommends 200 IU of vitamin D each day up to age 50, 400 IU at 60 and 600 IU at 70.  Many researchers feel that those levels are much too low and that food sources, such as milk and salmon, do not provide enough vitamin D.
If you have pre diabetes or type 2 diabetes, be sure not to forget your vitamin D.  It will help your immune system stay that much stronger and help you feel better, despite diabetes or other ailments you have to deal with.

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