Hypo Awareness Week

the hypo awareness logo on the Diabetes DietIt’s Hypo Awareness Week—what’s your favourite symptom?!

Kidding. Apart from a brief spell of time as a food-obsessed teenager when a hypo gave me the legit excuse to eat half a packet of Lucozade tablets, most of us hate the hypo.

From people who’ve found themselves in supermarkets eating handfuls of cereal from boxes (one of our lovely readers), to those nasty little spells where your mind goes blank and gives you a taste of what dementia might be like, most of us would banish hypos from our lives if we could.

The symptoms include:

  • hunger—your stomach might growl
  • turning pale and sweaty
  • tingling lips
  • shakes or trembling
  • dizziness
  • feeling tired
  • a fast or pounding heartbeat (palpitations)
  • becoming irritated, tearful, stroppy or moody
  • seeing floaters (a little blob of bright colour that moves) when you close your eyes or experiencing blurred vision

Most diabetics I’ve spoken to will add in another symptom—we don’t like others telling us we’re hypo. It’s to do with hypos making us irritable, and also because many of us strive to lead independent lives. Someone else noticing you’re unwell before you do undermines that ambition. Please bear with us and try not to mind our irritation.

We can’t moan about the symptoms too much, though. Still getting them after decades of diabetes is A. Good. Thing. If you lose the signs that your blood sugar levels have dipped too low, you risk passing out or having a seizure, and ultimately an untreated low blood glucose level can kill.

There are plenty of causes, such as

  • when you skip or miss a meal
  • if you take too much insulin to cover a meal
  • your basal rate being too high
  • exercise
  • unplanned activity
  • alcohol
  • changes to your routine

And because diabetes is a b***h to women, your cycle interferes with diabetes control too. Most women experience insulin resistance in the week or so leading up to their period and thus will need to take extra insulin to cover it. But the day the insulin resistance eases off can vary—it might be the day you get your period, it could be a few days later and BANG, higher than normal insulin doses, hypos left, right and centre…

 

Want to add any of your unusual symptoms or any scenarios you have found yourself in, thanks to a hypo? We love your comments…

My Favourite Health & Fitness Freebies

free sign on the Diabetes DietA continuous glucose monitoring system, the MiniMed 670G self-adjusting insulin pump, a personal trainer AND an unlimited food budget so I can buy organic, ethically sourced food all the time…

And, whoops—you interrupted me there in the middle of a reverie relating to the things I’d have to help me manage my diabetes if money were no object. The top of the range monitoring and pump therapy tech is obvious while the food and exercise one less so—but activity and an excellent low-carb diet can help you manage your blood glucose levels.

Stable blood glucose levels don’t guarantee you riches or the partner of your dreams, but a person who doesn’t ride the blood sugar roller coaster is far more energetic, and free to pursue what they want unhindered by the hell of mood swings.

In the meantime, what can we fiscally challenged diabetics do so we can fix our blood glucose levels to the best of our abilities? Here are suggestions for freebies that can help you manage your condition…

YouTube—otherwise known as the exercise channel in our house. Online, you’ll find tens of thousands of exercise uploads—from yoga to Pilates, barre classes, HIIT workouts and weight-lifting. You could spend several years working your way through them and not do the same workout twice. If you find gyms off-putting or their membership fees too expensive, YouTube’s perfect. Look for workouts that don’t need equipment either.

Start with walking workouts (Lesley Sansome’s Walk at Home channel is great). Fitness Blender’s videos are explained well, and the exercises done at a speed you can keep up with. Jessica Smith TV does a huge variety of workouts that offer different fitness benefits, and Heart and Soul Fitness does the same.

MyFitnessPal—there are studies that claim food tracking helps you maintain your weight. Food logs are useful for we diabetics too as they allow us to work out how much insulin we need for meals we eat regularly. MyFitnessPal has a huge database, but you can also add your own recipes and the site will give you a full nutritional breakdown of each.

MySugr – a free app for logging blood sugar results and additional information such as insulin does, exercise, weight, blood pressure and more. The app is useful, but if you don’t log for a day or so you will struggle to remember all the information you need to input for a complete picture of what is going on.

The internet—thanks to the world-wide web, there’s a wealth of information at our fingertips. As a teenager and twenty-something with diabetes, I only knew one or two others with the condition, and we didn’t meet up regularly to swap notes. Now there are forums, websites, charities, blogs, recipes and more online where we can find out more about the ol’ defunct pancreas problem.

A word to the wise… We all know the internet allows unprecedented freedom of speech, which is mostly for the good. But it’s also a place where information spreads unchecked. Blogs—and I include this one too—offer opinions and personal experience, which do not always equate to fact and recommendations suitable for you. Still, the Diet Doctor, Diabetes.co.uk, radiabetes.com and diabetesdaily.com offer gems. (I  apologise if I missed your great site out—limited room here.)

NHS 70 logo on the Diabetes DietAnd finally…drum roll… the NHS! Here in the UK, we folks with type 1 diabetes get free healthcare and prescriptions. I mump and moan occasionally about wanting the latest tech, but I’ve had diabetes for more than 30 years and in that time, I’ve never paid for medications, appointments or equipment. Our fabulous healthcare system has existed 70 years now. It’s shaky on its feet sometimes, but you can’t argue with the wonderful principles at its core—free healthcare for all, based on clinical need.

What are your favourite diabetes freebies? And what websites or blogs do you like?

More Thrush Ladies?!

a picture of canesten cream on The Diabetes DietCould I live with more thrush? Ladies who live with diabetes, you’ll join me at wincing at this one. No thanks, eh? Who wants to spend their days wishing they were sitting in a bath of calamine lotion?

I ask because I filled in a survey last week which asked me if I’d take a tablet to help with my blood sugar control despite initial findings where the control group suffered thrush as a side effect. That wasn’t the only reported side effect—weight loss is another one—but the benefits reported are exciting.

The drug is sotagliflozin (marketed as Zynquista), made by Sanofi and Lexicon, and it’s a dual SGLT1 and SGLT2 inhibitor. At present, it’s about to be reviewed by the US Food and Drug Administration, as diabetes.co.uk reported.

The SGLT1 bit works to delay glucose absorption in the intestines which helps with blood sugar spikes after eating. The SGLT2 inhibitor makes the kidneys better at getting rid of excess sugar in the blood.

Zynquista had undergone clinical trials. People who took the drug achieved better HbA1c levels without increasing the risk of severe hypos. But one group of trial participants taking sotagliflozin developed diabetic ketoacidosis, compared to just 0.6 percent taking a placebo.

Participants on the trial lost 2.98kg compared to those not taking the drug.

Would I take it? Heck, yes, even if it means stockpiling the clotrimazole creams beforehand. All addition help in the blood sugar battle is always welcome.

 

 

ADA Reveals Diabetes Now the Costliest Health Condition

At the end of March, the American Diabetes Association released a report on diabetes’ fiscal impact. Guess what? It’s scarily high.

Diabetes is now the costliest chronic condition in the country. Diagnosed diabetes expenses in the US totalled $327 billion in 2017. The data indicates that one of every four healthcare dollars in spent by someone diagnosed with diabetes. And one of every seven is spent directly treating the condition and its complications.

The Economics of Diabetes in the US in 2017 kicked off the ADA’s annual call to congress event. More than 150 diabetes advocates meet with members of congress and staff, urging them to make diabetes a national priority.

The report showed that the economic costs of diabetes increased 26 percent from 2012 to 2017, thanks to its increased prevalence and the rise in cost per person living with the condition. The costs include $237 billion in direct medical bills and $90 billion in reduced productivity. The largest contributors to the costs of diabetes are higher use of prescribed medications, hospital in-patient services, medications and supplies.

These costs are passed on to all Americans thanks to higher medical costs, higher insurance premiums and taxes, reduced earnings, lost productivity, premature mortality, and intangible costs in the form of reduced quality of life.

ADA’s chief scientific, medical and mission officer, William Cefalu said: “From our new economics report, it is very clear that diabetes bears a significant impact on our nation, both in its toll on the lives of the millions affected by it, and the economic costs for all.

“The most important solution we have is continued and increased investment in critical diabetes research, care and prevention to improve diagnosis and treatment, and to help us turn the tide through diabetes prevention. These efforts can help us to improve health outcomes for people with diabetes – and hopefully decrease the cost of diabetes.”

 

Diabetes Athlete Survey

Are you physically active and do you have diabetes (of any type)? Now is your chance to share how you manage your diabetes regimen while doing a variety of activities! A new edition of Dr. Sheri Colberg’s book, Diabetic Athlete’s Handbook, is coming out in Spring 2019. Please complete the diabetic athlete survey at the link below no later than […]

via Do Diabetic Athlete Survey by May 15 — Dr. Sheri’s Blog

The Fitbit!

I’ve joined the Fitbit world. Having dipped my toe in the water via the Jawbone Up Activity tracker, I’m now the proud owner of a Fitbit.

My Up activity tracker vanished in January when the device fell out of the wristband. It must be somewhere in the house. Maybe the system thinks I’m dead thanks to my lack of movement. Hey ho! Anyway, by that point I reckoned I knew what you needed to do to cover 10,000 steps a day, and I was quite happy to live tracker-free.

I didn’t stare at my phone so much. My health didn’t take a nosedive, and the world didn’t end.

On Valentine’s Day, however, my husband gave me a Fitbit Charge 2, the reward for staying alcohol-free so far this year. To be honest, when he hinted the other week that he’d got me a pressie for my teetotal efforts, I thought he was talking about champagne. It always makes sense to reward your giving up something with the very substance you’ve been avoiding, hmm?!

And I was grateful and touched that he’d bothered. He’d done the research, he told me happily. This tracker is the all-singing, all-dancing one! It counts your steps, how often you climb up stairs (you should climb ten flights a day for good health, apparently), checks your heart beat, auto-recognises different exercises and monitors your sleep. You can add in a food tracker and monitor your calorie intake if you want to lose weight.

For someone who tends to obsessiveness, this is good and bad news. To prevent myself repeatedly checking my phone, I downloaded the app for Fitbit onto my tablet instead.

Exercise is very good for we folks with diabetes if you are able to be active. If you have type 2, you might be able to control the condition through diet and exercise alone. If you have type 1, exercise will mean you can reduce how much insulin you need to take overall, and it can be used with diet and insulin to keep your blood sugar levels in range.

At some point, perhaps activity trackers will be prescribed for people with diabetes? In the future, the Fitbit could include blood glucose monitoring, as a story earlier this year reported that Fitbit has just invested in a company that’s developing a minimally invasive glucose tracker. Imagine having all that information available in one place.

I, for one, would love that capability, so fingers crossed.

Death of Diabetic Driver Who Missed Hospital Appointments to Avoid Fines

The delivery firm DPD hit the headlines this week – for the wrong reasons.

One of the firm’s drivers died from diabetes-related causes. According to his wife, he’d started missing hospital appointments because the company fines you £150 for not working, if you can’t find someone to drive on your behalf. As a franchisee, the onus is on the driver to find his or her replacement if that person needs to take time off for medical reasons.

Don Lane worked through the busy Christmas period, despite feeling ill. He collapsed in late December and died on 4 January.

Mr Lane’s story was widely reported. An article in the Independent said Mr Lane had worked for 20 years for the company at its Bournemouth depot. His widow Ruth told the Guardian that he’d missed appointments because he was worried about being fined, having previously been fined for taking time off for an appointment in July when he visited a specialist about the damage to his eyes caused by diabetes.

Labour MP Frank Field, the chair of the Commons Work and Pension Select Committee, said the loss of life represented a new low for the gig economy. In a statement, DPD emphasised that Mr Lane was “self-employed”, and said it was “devastated” by Mr Lane’s death, but that self-employed couriers are contracted to provide a service, and they can provide a substitute if they can’t carry out the job.

They added that they were wrong to charge him for attending his appointment in July.

Horrifying, isn’t it? If you feel strongly about this, and would like to do something about it, you can choose not to use DPD for parcel delivers where possible. This might mean changing your shopping habits or asking companies you regularly buy goods from which courier firms they use. You can also make your feelings known via social media – @DPD_UK on Twitter.