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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Diabetes Monitored with Alert Dog's Help

Diabetes monitored with the help of a dog? The dog will help monitor the blood sugar level. This may be a good idea, but $5000 for an alert dog? Perhaps it's good to compare that with the continuous monitoring system. Mind you there have been reports of dogs saving the life of some with a hypoglycemic attack.

Let us take the example of Kristin Rogers who is from North Carolina. She has been a longtime diabetics so she knows the danger of low blood sugar. There are other high tech methods in the market to monitor it but she relies on a golden retriever named Maggie.

It helps that Kristin likes dogs . This helps so it was easy for her to decide to get a golden retriever. After a few months of working with Maggie, Kristin learned to read the signals the alert dog sends her. One time she was cross because the dog kept coming up to the bed where Maggie was. Kristin therefore decided to check her blood sugar and sure enough found she was low.

So while science has not really proven that alert dogs can be such a help, the companies that breed and train them say the dogs are so sensitive to smell that they are able to detect the blood sugar level. Dr. Jean Dostou, the endocrinologist at UNC Health Care said that longtime diabetics can fail to see the signs of low blood sugar.

Dr. Dostou said that the longtime diabetics have lost their epinephrine response so are unable to get the same kind of symptoms that can warn them of low blood sugar. Sometimes her parents have to call her in the middle of the night to remind her to check her blood sugar level.

Kristin Rogers said it happened to her several times that she did not recognize any warning and so she did not wake up to go to work. She didn't even wake up to take her son to school because she was very low. She did not like that to happen to her so she opted to use an alert dog.

Dr. Dostou said that Kristin is the first one she knows who used the alert dog so she cannot say that dogs are effective just like the other methods of monitoring devices. She did admit that dogs can possibly be attuned to her owner's behavior and that may be a warning sign.

Kristin did encounter some challenges with Maggie. For one thing, she had to undergo three weeks of intensive training. Then there is the fact that Maggie is another mouth to feed. Then there is the extra energetic person she has to keep up with. But she needs the exercise so she does not mind this.

There are not too many companies that train dogs to recognize the low blood sugar level. And the cost as mentioned above is around $5000. Insurance may pay for part of the cost. In this case then it may be a good idea to have an alert dog trained in recognizing the symptoms of low sugar in diabetes.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sleep Duration May be Affected by Inflammation

Sleep duration, either too much or too little may be affected by inflammation as shown in the U.S. study that included 614 participants. In the past, studies had linked both long and short duration with a higher risk for diabetes, coronary heart disease, obesity and death.

The same thing has been noted linking chronic elevations in inflammation-regulating cytokines with an increased risk of health issues such as diabetes and heart disease. Thus the researchers found the association between inflammation and sleep duration.

Participants in this particular study were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding their sleep habits. To do this, the participants were asked to spend one night in a sleep lab. The mean sleep duration calculated in the sleep lab was 6.2 hours while the mean sleep duration reported by the participants was 7.6 hours.

Every additional hour of sleep duration that was reported by the participants was associated with a 7% increase in levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) as well as an 8 percent increase in levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). Both of these are inflammation-regulating cytokines.

As for every additional hour of sleep reduction that was verified in the sleep lab, it was found to be associated with an 8% increase in tumor necrosis factor. The tumor necrosis factor is another inflammation-regulating cytokine which affirms the previous finding.

They also found that those who had longer sleep duration were considerably younger and whereas the short sleep duration was linked with an increased incidence of hypertension, diabetes, and obstructive sleep apnea. This fact alone will encourage people to have longer sleep duration.

Assistant professor of medicine, Dr. Sanjay R. Patel who was also the lead author of the study said that the most surprising finding was that there were different relationships that were based on how sleep was measured. Let us see how this will affect the way it was covered.

Patel and associates said the different patterns of association with cytokine levels may indicate that the sleep duration reported seems to show chronic (long term) sleep while sleep duration reported in the lab show sleep pattern were acute or short term.

There is also concern that the two ways of measuring the duration of sleep may be affected in different ways by some underlying factors like mood or stress, sleep habits. These of course will have a direct effect on the cytokine levels. There is more information on sleep and diabetes in this article.
Another study reported that those who do not have enough sleep and those who have too much sleep may become at high risk for diabetes and other diseases. This is quite a surprise to me as I thought people have different needs for sleep.

Some can get by with five hours while others need more. So does this mean those who require only five hours of sleep are at risk to develop those conditions? This of course does not clarify very well these relationships as it is said at the end that too much sleep will also increase the risk for diabetes. Thus ends my research on sleep duration.