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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Diabetes Medications, a Portrait of Cynicism?

Diabetes medications could be insulin or oral drugs. These are drugs taken by mouth. They are also known as oral hypoglycemic agents. This is a wrong term though because these are not given to cause hypoglycemia. Rather they are given to lower the blood sugar level.

By the middle of the 1950's, the diabetes medications called sulfonylureas were developed because they helped lower the blood sugar level of those who could not do so through exercise and diets. Now these are generally known to be effective for type 2 diabetics.

There are other diabetes medications available and they have their own characteristics. Some are long acting while others are intermediate. Still others are short acting. Taking them depends on different factors some of which are physical activity, response to diet and pills, and food intake.

As of last year GlaxcoSmithKline published additional information for Avandia in the US. As per announcement of GlaxoSmithKline. the US FDA has approved the updated prescribing info for thiazolidinediones class of diabetes medications. These are used to treat Type 2 diabetes.

GSK will be able to execute the changes on the Avandia label. This time the label will include a boxed warning in addition to the existing one on the risk for CHF, an acronym for congestive heart failure. One of the most common complications of type 2 diabetes is CHF. In this condition, the heart is unable to pump blood to the other organs.

This can lead to fluid retention or edema which can result in CHF or make it worse. Here's the safety information for Avandia. With diet and exercise, Avandia aids in improving blood sugar control. The possible side effects consist of heart failure or other heart problems.

FDA reviewed more information on this. Consult with your doctor if you have heart failure or heart problems. If you notice swelling or retention of fluid sharpness of breath, rapid increase of weight or feeling unusually tired while taking Avandia, tell your doctor right away.

If you have liver problems, you should not take Avandia. Tell your doctor the diabetes medications you're taking. Avandia may also increase your risk of pregnancy. Don't take Avandia if you're nursing your baby. Also, while taking Avandia, you may experience more fractures and vision changes.

There may be adverse reaction to sulfonylureas which could be in the form of low blood glucose. But the reaction is usually not as severe as those on insulin. The frequency is not as often either. But this does not mean precautions will not be taken into consideration.

When experiencing periods of stress, the doctor may temporarily stop the oral medicine you're taking. Instead he may decide to put you on insulin to control the blood sugar. When the stress is over like in case of an accident or infection, you may be able to go back to the diabetes medications.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Risk of Insulin Resistance Increases With Fat Build-Up

The fat build-up that they refer to here is the one on chest and upper back according to HIV Study. This study led by the San Francisco VA Medical Center says that fat build-up in this area is linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance.

They say that this is the very first time this relationship has been established. The lead author and researcher, Carl Grunfield, M.D., PhD, who is the chief of the metabolism and endocrine sections at the San Francisco VA Medical Center says that the association between visceral fat and insulin resistance risk has been studied before but nobody looked at the upper trunk fat.

We know that insulin is the hormone that controls the blood glucose levels so when the cells become resistant to the insulin action, the end result is high blood glucose which has bad effects on the body. Grunfeld further observes that people with lots of fat in the upper trunk and not much in the stomach are at risk to develop insulin resistance. But if you have both, he says the risk is rather high.

What is the implication of this study? So is this what causes diabetes? Over 3/4 of type 2 diabetics are obese or were obese at one time. But what is obesity anyway? Clinically speaking, anyone who has a body mass index of 30 or over is considered obese. How do you get your body mass index? Google those three words and you will be led to a chart.

The chart will help you determine what is the best weight for you. It takes into account the height and this helps give a good estimate of someone's body fat. Try to adhere as close as possible to the body mass index that is right for you. What am I saying? We should all do that because I myself have a hard time not trying everything at the buffet. Yup, the buffet is still my Waterloo.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Why of the Diabetes Epidemic, Part 3

We said before that carbohydrates and fats are the main providers of energy to keep it working. The carbohydrates are broken down into smaller sugars in the intestine. These smaller sugars can now be absorbed into the circulation. This is then moved from the blood into the cell.

It is during this transport that it gets to meet Mr. Insulin. There it is broken further making it a main source of energy. The extra sugar or glucose is then stored in the liver or as glycogen in the muscle. This can also be stored in the muscles where they stay until they are needed.

How about the fats? The other main source of energy is dietary fat which produces a breakdown product called fatty acids. The same thing happens to it just like the glucose. They are either used immediately for energy or stored to use later.

Insulin is a hormone that is made in the pancreas. It is a protein that is circulated in the blood stream and while it does, it affects the functioning of the other organs. The pancreas also produces chemicals that help break down the food so that that the intestine can absorb this.

There are also bunches of cells in the pancreas called islets that contain different specialized cells. Phew! Thank goodness for the forefathers who did studies on this and now they're even using it as a new diabetes cure
or we would not even know these cells exist. Anyway, one of the cells in the islets are the beta cells that produce insulin.

The sugar level in the blood is sensed by these beta cells after a meal and as the level goes up, the beta cells make insulin that makes the transport of sugar into the cells faster, thus effectively stopping the blood sugar from going up too high.

When the sugar level falls, what do you think happens? The opposite happens. The insulin production stops and opens up the stored sugar in the cells. Think of the insulin as a traffic policeman who directs the nutrients to the storage when the sugar level is up and then directs them to come out of the storage when the sugar level is down.

Isn't that cool? This is what happens in a person without diabetes. This is a finely tuned machine but just like our cars, when something disturbs the engine, then there is trouble. I should not really call it trouble for it is just a challenge we have to meet head on.

My, my, this is getting too long. We have not halfway covered why diabetes is on the rise but we will. We will just persevere with our weekly sessions and learn as much as we can about this. What is ten minutes (it takes to read this) compared to a life-long knowledge on this which we can pass on to the next generation?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Normal Blood Glucose Levels and Lifestyle Behavior, Part 2

June 7, 2008

Okay, we've covered the three lifestyle behaviors that affect the normal blood glucose levels. Let's review them before proceeding to the others. They are: reducing the consumption of sweetened drinks, managing hypoglycemia well, and matching the insulin injection with the meal schedules. Now let's go to two more.

The lifestyle behavior that is associated with normal blood sugar levels is consistency in eating meals and snacks. And this means eating at regular times a day. That is not all that is related to this behavior for making sure the amount of carbohydrates one eats daily is consistent as well is crucial.

One way of accomplishing the above is through carb counting. This entails counting the number of grams of carbohydrates that is consumed a day. Or the number of servings of carbohydrates can be counted because each serving of carbohydrates is equals to 15 grams.

It should be pointed out here that carbohydrate counting
is different from counting the number of calories and the number of fat grams one consumes. Why? Because for the calories and fat, you keep count of the total consumed for the day whereas for the former it is keeping track of the number consumed at each meal.

Why is this such a big deal? Because carbohydrates effect on the blood sugar peak from one and a half hours to two hours after a meal. That is why one has to eat the same amount of carbohydrates for each meal to ensure the blood sugar level stays stable, that is, not too high nor too low.

If one's consumption of carbohydrates varies a lot, then expect the blood sugar level to be unpredictable. In this case one has to learn how to adjust the insulin dose to match the carbohydrate intake. Have no fear, for your health care team is here. All you have to do is ask them and they will put you on the right track.

Phew! That is one mouthful just for carbohydrate consumption alone. And we still have to cover one more lifestyle behavior that will help keep the blood sugar level normal. I am running out of space but I'd hate to wait till next week to cover the last lifestyle behavior so fasten the seatbelt and don't click me away now. I will make it short and sweet, I promise!

The last lifestyle behavior is learning the effect of food intake, insulin injection and exercise to the different blood glucose levels uncovered from the self-monitoring. Write down each reading and the corresponding food and activity that led to that blood glucose level.

Once this is done a few times, a pattern will emerge and one will master the cause and effect relationship among those three activities. This will help one learn how to adjust the insulin dose to the carbohydrate consumption and the activity level engaged. Pretty soon you will be such a pro, you will be invited as resource person to help the other diabetics. Won't that be grand!