01 October 2010

A common foot problem

Cracked heels? Do you have this problem? This is a large problem for many people and not just those with diabetes.

Men, don't think this is a problem for women only! Many men can develop this problem as well. Granted, many of the websites dealing with cracked heels are written for women; however, men that wear a lot of sandals and shoes without good heel and sole support do develop heel fissures. Read more to see how well the facts fit you.

Cracked heels can give off an odor and become infected. This foot problem is started by dry skin. If the condition continues and the dry skin becomes thicker in the heel area it is then termed a callus. When the calluses are thick and become cracked, the pain can be very intense. If not taken care of promptly and properly, it can become infected.

Cracks or fissures are often caused by increased pressures in the heel area that are caused by the way you walk, standing for long periods, being overweight, wearing sandals, slippers, or loose fitting loafers. Other factors include skin problems of psoriasis and eczema, dry skin caused by diabetes or thyroid diseases, age, certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and poor hygiene. Medical conditions also can create problems, such as lower leg surgical procedures, improperly aligned metatarsal bones, heel spurs, and either high arched or flat feet.

Some of the symptoms of cracked heels are pain when walking, yellow or dark colored skin on the heel, itching feet, peeling or cracking skin, and heels that have flaky or red patches.

It is advisable to see a podiatrist as soon as something is noticed. If you have diabetes, schedule a semiannual appointment or more often to catch foot problems early. The doctor may give you a regimen to follow for reducing the dry skin and a prescription for moisturizers.

Things that can be done at home include soaking the feet and using files to remove the soften skin. There are also callus removers and pumice stones to reduce the dry skin of the calluses.

Stop wearing poor fitting sandals, slippers, and shoes with thin soles. If you don't own a pair of shoes that fit properly and have a good weight absorbing sole, consider purchasing one or two pairs. Take care of your feet with a large dose of TLC (tender loving care).

30 September 2010

Sleep Apnea makes diabetes harder to control

From a small study by the University of Chicago, researchers are stating clearly that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) that is undiagnosed and untreated leads to complications of diabetes from poor blood glucose control.

While 60 individuals was the number used for the study, we know nothing about the health of the individuals other than that they may have had diabetes and sleep apnea before the study.

Of the 60 participants, 46 were found to have sleep apnea that was not treated or not diagnosed. For those that had sleep apnea, it was found that the more severe it was, the worse the management was measured by the A1c test.

This new study has determined that sleep apnea makes Type 2 diabetes worse and increases the incidence of complications. This should tell the American Diabetes Association that physicians need to screen their patients with diabetes for OSA.

Obstructive sleep apnea is also linked to an increased risk of mortality from all causes. This information was published in a study last year titled “Sleep-Disordered Breathing and Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study.” The statistics are alarming from this study.

Since it is known that sleep apnea does relate as a risk factor to diabetes, this small study is still important to be aware of. Read about the study here. The study and findings are published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

29 September 2010

Sleep is so important!

We are all aware of the link between diabetes and sleep. The same applies to heart disease and sleep, and diabetes and heart disease. It is true that many people are not as aware of the diabetes-heart and sleep connections as they should be.

Not only does the lack of sleep increase the risk of diabetes, but heart disease, as evidenced by this study. This study shows that for those getting less than six hours of sleep per night are three times more likely to develop a condition that leads to heart disease and diabetes.

For those who already have diabetes, lack of sleep makes blood glucose levels harder to manage. Many people complain about being tired, but never talk to their doctor about how tired or if they can't sleep. Others do not let their spouse complain about their sleep habits. Sleep disorders are often overlooked as being a cause for lack of sleep and being tired.

Whether you have narcolepsy, insomnia, or simply aren't getting the sleep you need, sleep problems are serious. If your spouse complains about your snoring, you may have sleep apnea. Please consult with your doctor to get proper treatment for any of these. Because the amount of sleep can vary with the individual, you may not need the recommended seven and one half hours. Individuals can vary from needing as little as four hours to as much as eleven hours of sleep.

Sometimes the treatment can be as simple as getting exercise. This can aid the endorphins and allow you to sleep a more restful sleep. Another cause of lack of sleep can be the extra weight you carry around every day. Shedding this baggage will also help improve sleep.

So this is a reminder for you, if you have diabetes and your blood glucose levels are hard to manage, be honest with yourself and if you are constantly tired, make sure that you are receiving enough sleep. Also do not be afraid to discuss this with your doctor to discover if you have a sleep disorder or sleep apnea.

For sleep apnea check out my post here. There will be additional posts coming about sleep apnea in the near future so watch this blog. I will have another short one in this space tomorrow that I did not want to combine with this.

28 September 2010

Selenium and Type 2 diabetes

Selenium and diabetes – more confusion than answers. Some studies strongly favor selenium as a supplement to reduce the risk of diabetes, and the next study says that it increases the risk of diabetes. This French study shows that selenium only helps men avoid diabetes and related health problems. Another study, in the same article, at the State University of New York states that selenium supplements increases the risk of diabetes and cancer.

A WebMD article from 2007 relies on the same State University of New York, but editorializes that obesity may be the cause of the adverse results.

Another article from Scientific American is very critical of the use of selenium because the soils in the US have high levels in them and most people are already at the suggested levels. It was determined by unnamed researchers (maybe the centers for disease control) that selenium was found in excess in people with diabetes and then they say that selenium supplements should not be given out until more research is completes to know the effects of selenium for diabetes and cancer.

The recommended dietary allowance for selenium is 55 micrograms per day for adults, and most Americans reach that with diet alone. The FDA warns that the daily intake should not exceed 400 micrograms. The FDA recalled two popular dietary supplements last year that contained more than 40,000 micrograms, an amount that is considered toxic.

The article states that selenium may be needed in some areas of Europe and China, but for the most part, the US population does not need this in their supplements. I used to take a selenium supplement, but stopped in 2002. Now I find that my Senior Supplement contains the 55 mg of selenium as do most supplements sold today. The jury is still out on selenium and there may or may not be any benefits to taking selenium.

27 September 2010

Vitamin D for you

Vitamin D. What is it? When it was discovered it seemed to work like a vitamin, so a vitamin it became. Now? No, it may retain its name, but it is not a vitamin, but a hormone produced by the body and helps regulate calcium levels. This was determined at Murdoch University in Western Australia. David Mendosa writes about it here.

Now that it has been properly tagged and classified, how much should we be taking? This still needs to be answered. There have been some fairly well thought out suggestions, but this may be history. Some additional research is needed and there is no idea of when this will be concluded.

Old data suggests that exposure to the sun will normally supply all you need, but like so many other things, there is no definite time period that a person must be exposed to the sun. This article from the BBC is showing some recommendations for those in the northern-most climates, but even they cannot make a definitive determination.

The Institute of Medicine of The National Academies presently has these standards for Vitamin D intake at 200 international units (IU) for people under age 51, 400 IU for people 51 to 70, and 600 IU for people older than 70. Some are saying there will be an update in 2010 and are saying the IU should be much greater.

Is there a link between Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes? The link is tentative at best. as discussed in this article in WebMD. A definitive link is far from being conclusively established.

Vitamin D exists as D1, D2, and D3. D3 is the active form of vitamin D. Read more of the technical aspects here.

26 September 2010

Early diagnosis of heart disease and diabetes?

We have been watching since September 17, 2010 and now there is more speculation that we will have a new test for diabetes diagnosis and heart disease. This is still in the development stage and will need further verification as the test presently can identify about half of the people that will develop Type 2 diabetes.

Intervening and screening people who are at a higher risk for diabetes before they develop symptoms can be a plus for these people. They will have the opportunity to take steps to possibly delay the start of diabetes for many years, or maybe prevent diabetes from developing.

The other development that needs exposure happens in the area of cardiovascular disease. The same molecule for detecting diabetes will also give indications of damage to blood vessels that can lead to heart attack, stroke, and poor circulation.

The keys are ribonucleic acids (RNAs). These need to be identified as there is the possibility of other RNAs also being part of the analysis and adding to testing for more accurate diagnosis of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Presently MiR-126 is the big find in RNAs as this protects blood vessels from damage. Five other specific RNAs have been identified as being abnormally low in people with diabetes and in those that developed diabetes.

It is hoped that the new test will isolate those who will go on to have heart disease and treatment can prevent this from happening by targeting drugs at those who would benefit the most. It would be a great benefit to take the 15 percent of the heart attacks that are due to diabetes and have the possibility of reducing this number.