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Wed, 13th July 2016
 

It is the dread D word. "D is for Diabetes". So what, it's the other person, not me. But ..... how do you know.

This is a plea for every reader to request a blood sugar test next visit to your GP. Any figure over 5.0 is suspect. The higher the figure, the greater the risk.

Diabetes means cells in the pancreas (a large abdominal organ) which produce insulin are not working properly. Insulin converts sugar to energy in cells, allowing normal activity. Excess sugar is stored as fat, which in turn aggravates the situation. The increased sugar (glucose) in the blood vessels, over time, silently destroys blood vessel lining, which in turn affects every part of the system.

So there is an increasing cascade of horrible symptoms. Like visual disturbances (including cataract or clouding of the lens), reduced circulation to the limbs, especially the feet. These can turn blue, numb or tingle, and turn to gangrene if untreated. Kidney filtration is affected. Arteries harden, blood supply to the heart is impeded, elevated blood pressure, heart pain called Angina become common. This is all aggravated with smoking.

RED FLAGS

Common early symptoms are increased thirst, increased urinary output, fatigue, dry itchy skin and overweight. These demand prompt investigation and intervention. A family history of diabetes greatly increases risks.

Early treatment is relatively simple. Lose weight, get more exercise, reduce carbohydrate intake, eat more fruit, veggies, nuts, berries and high fibre foods. It is not hard. Say "No" to cakes and pastry, fried foods, sweets, fizz drinks and go easy on the slops.

If this is inadequate, oral medication is the next step, and along with the above points, is often successful. If not, then you are headed for insulin injections, and this is usually for life This is a nuisance, and daily blood sugar readings are necessary up to four times a day.

There are at least 2 million known diabetics in Australia, but it is believed the true figure may be four or five million, most undiagnosed. The majority are called Type 2, and comes on anywhere from the thirties to the eighties.

Type 1 is different, a child being born with the disease, but often not diagnosed for several years, and requires insulin for life.

Each year, thousands of feet and legs are amputated, thousands of cataracts removed, more thousands of premature deaths through kidney and heart failure or stroke. It is an ugly picture, largely preventable.

So ... get as much physical activity as possible, avoid overweight, and lose weight if obese. Eat and drink sensibly, do not smoke, and risks are minimised. Phone "Diabetes Australia" if you want more information.

 
LOOSE LADY

Q: 

Is there a simply remedy for simple diarrhoea for no obvious reason?

A: 

Most cases are due to "dietetic indiscretions" or infection. Although most know what their systems can and cannot tolerate, still eat foods or combinations that irritate the gut lining (usually the large gut or "colon", causing over-reaction and looseness). Fluid is reabsorbed in the colon, making it suitable consistency after all the goodies have been sucked out by the bloodstream. The shorter the time in the colon, the more fluid. Germs are notorious. Flies transmit germs from contaminated items, land on food, where they breed madly, often producing toxins. Unwittingly swallowed, this causes similar gut irritation, often bloating and discomfort. Always protect food from flies, refrigerate perishables always, but specially in hot weather. Hand washing before handling food and always after the loo is essential.

 
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RED MARKS

Q: 

If I inadvertently scratch my arm a red streak following the irritation often flares up and remains for hours.

A: 

This is hypersensitivity of your system. Even mild damage to superficial tissue causes histamine production which produces vasodilation and the red mark. You may be sensitive to other triggers, often unrecognised (often "allergens" in the air.) Many are prone to hives, skin rashes, asthma, hay fever. Applying a cold pack reduces blood flow and itch. A mild hydrocortisone cream helps temporarily, and so do non-sedating antihistamines if it persists. Referral to an "immunologist" may be suggested in severe cases especially if there are related symptoms.

 
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RINGS LOOPS TATTOOS

Q: 

It seems anyone can set up business as a tattooist, perform body piercing or acupuncture, prescribe and sell herbs and all manner of other concoctions, with absolutely no qualifications.

A: 

Doctors are put through the third degrees before seeing a patient and people happily sue them if anything goes wrong. Greed is the motivating factor. Anyone a bit disgruntled can rush off for legal advice and "go where the money is", as all registered medical practitioners must carry heavy insurance and are a sitting target. I have no sympathy for those attending unregistered practitioners, and things go off the rails.

 
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PUBLIC HOSPITALS

Q: 

We constantly hear, especially on current affairs programmes, of the abysmal state of the public hospital system, disgruntled patients and long waiting lists. One rarely hears the positive side.

A: 

My brother has been ill for a number of years, has attended the local public hospital (which is regularly pilloried on TV,) and has nothing but praise. Doctors, nursing staff especially, and technicians have universally treated him with respect, dignity, and shown empathy and skill. Without this he would have been dead twenty years ago, but now retains a reasonable quality of life, is happy, as he follows their advice. He often mentions the unending "bellyaching" of many inpatients, who grizzle and complain if their ("free") dinner arrives five minutes late.

 
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YOUTHFUL HEALING

Q: 

How come little ones heal so quickly if they sustain a mild, or even severe accident, and in no time are up again back to normal. Whilst adults linger on for weeks trying to recover

A: 

Young cells multiply fast, as the body forges along the line of life. Bones are soft when growing and bend rather than break. Cells all over the body are growing to increase the size of the various organs and the body in general. This is all part of natures in built genetic programme. Just as most people have the inherited gene for the day when everything switches off.

 
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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.

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