We have been using mirrors for at least 8,000 years to check our appearance and to admire our features. But only now can we conveniently use them to check the health of our feet.
The newest development in this long history of mirrors can help those of us who have diabetes prevent the worst problems that diabetic neuropathy causes. About 60 to 70 percent of us have some form of neuropathy. The most common type is peripheral neuropathy, which causes pain or loss of feeling in the toes, feet, legs, hands, and arms.
We we don’t treat injuries to our feet right away, doctors may have to amputate. But if we catch little problems with our feet before they became major, people with diabetes can prevent at least half of these amputations.
You can skip your flu shot this year — if you would rather get sick than go to work. While you hope to recover in your bed at home alone, you can reflect that you are among the 5 percent of Americans who told surveyors that they made that choice.
While you’re at it, you might also want to consider that about 35,000 of us die and 225,000 get sick enough to need a hospital bed because of the flu. If you recover, you might think about trying to get a job that you hate less that the chance of getting the flu.
As many as one-fifth of us will get the flu this year. Most of those who will get it are among the 45 percent of Americans who will skip getting their annual flu shot. Their reasons for skipping the shot are just as good as those who might have to look for a new job in this difficult economy while waiting for Congress to extend unemployment benefits.
When we have healthy kidneys, little or no protein appears in the urine. But protein in the urine — technically called proteinuria — is an early sign that our diabetes has damaged the kidney’s filters. It’s a strong risk factor for kidney failure where the only treatment is dialysis.
A progression from diabetes to proteinuria to kidney failure is anything but inevitable. Each step can be a heads up for change.
Now, new studies show that a drug commonly used to treat problems of circulation can also decrease proteinuria. The drug is pentoxifylline, sold under the brand names of Pentoxil and Trental.
If you have both diabetes and depression, you probably don’t care which came first. In fact, the latest research indicates that the two conditions are a two-way street. Sometimes we get depressed first; something we get diabetes first. Does it matter?
Diabetes and depression go together. Research research found that 19 percent of people with type 2 diabetes probably suffer from major depression and an additional two-thirds of us have at least some depressive symptoms. People with diabetes are twice as likely to be depressed as other people.
This reminds me of the futile argument whether being overweight causes diabetes. I an convinced that being overweight doesn’t cause diabetes or vise versa, and in my second book, Losing Weight with Your Diabetes Medication, I devote the entire first chapter to exploring that concept.
The diabetes drug Byetta can help us control our blood glucose and lose weight. That’s huge — and just the beginning of the story.
Full disclosure: I own 100 shares of stock in Amylin, the company that developed Byetta.
About a year ago, after the Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in Chicago, I reported here how Byetta can reduce our risk of heart attacks and strokes. These are the most common and deadly complications of diabetes.
Now a study presented at the ADA’s recent Scientific Sessions in San Francisco indicates that the reduced risk to our hearts may lead to previously unheard of benefits. Taking Byetta can lower our chance of dying compared with other diabetes drugs. The Times says that the chance of dying while taking Byetta is about 75 percent lower than on the other drugs.
You can conquer sleep apnea. I know you can because I conquered a most severe form of it. And I’ve now even given away both of my continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, which is the standard treatment for overweight people who have sleep apnea.
About half of all of us who have diabetes also suffer from sleep apnea. While not all of us who have diabetes suffer from it, everyone with sleep apnea suffers. People lose their jobs because they nod off to sleep at work rather than at night. People crash their cars because they fall asleep at the wheel. Even those who don’t get fired or have traffic accidents suffer by being sleepy much of the time.
My fear of killing myself and my passengers by nodding off during an afternoon drive was in fact what finally persuaded me to seek treatment. Four years ago, when I finally began to get my sleep apnea under control with a CPAP machine, I wrote my first article about it. That article, for Diabetes Wellness News, is now online.