Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Health Care and Medical Bankruptcy

Medical bills can pile up quickly if you have a catastrophic health care event, such as a heart attack, stroke, major accident, or need an organ transplant. Even the costs for common procedures can add up fast, especially if you’re uninsured or underinsured. These days, due to the changes in the health insurance game, many people have switched to a high deductible plan that requires first dollar payment until you reach your deductible. If that amount is high, like $5,000 or $10,000 or higher, you may struggle to make those payments to the medical facility.

What if you’re diagnosed with a form of cancer or another debilitating disease? What if you’re in a car accident or get hurt in some type of major injury requiring a trip to the hospital emergency room. Those dollars escalate in a hurry, and you are left to deal with the financial burden of payment to the hospital and attending medical staff, and some of those may be out of network for your insurance plan if you have one in place.

Regardless of percentages and political leanings, some people are going to have to use up all their savings to pay off their medical bills. Many will be unable to pay for basic necessities like rent, food and utilities. Some of them have children. A lot of them even have medical insurance. To save money, some will cut corners with their treatments, not taking their prescription drugs as indicated, skipping doses, taking less medicine than prescribed or delaying a refill.

Here are a few interesting stats about medical bankrutpcy:
--“Medical Bills Are the Biggest Cause of U.S. Bankruptcies” – 2013 NerdWallet Health study.
-- “56M Americans under age 65 will have trouble paying medical bills [in 2013]” – 2013 NerdWallet Health study.
-- “The percentage of people under age 65 in families having problems paying medical bills decreased from 21.7 percent in the first six months of 2011 to 20.3 percent in the first six months of 2012” – 2013 Center for Disease Control study.

Although passage of the Affordable Care Act has shown that there is a slow decline in personal bankruptcies due to medical debt, many families are still struggling to afford to pay their bills from medical care. It’s understandable that so many Americans are being compelled to think about bankruptcy and medical bills as a potential answer to severe medical debt. But unfortunately, the downsides to bankruptcy are so severe and end up affecting individuals for years beyond making the decision to file.

According to USA Today, But the Affordable Care Act hasn't eliminated the problem. In 2013, medical debt was the largest cause of personal bankruptcy — 1.7 million people lived in households experiencing bankruptcy because of health costs. Many states haven't expanded Medicaid and even those with insurance can rack up big bills, a problem exacerbated by the growing number of plans with high deductibles.

The health law brought regulations that limited for the first time the cost-sharing in plans. An individual plan sold on an exchange can't include out-of-pocket costs greater than $6,600. In practice, the average deductible, or portion a consumer must pay before insurance kicks in, varies based on how expensive a plan is. But the regulation still only applies to providers and specialists specified by the plan as "in-network." The narrower the network, the more vulnerable consumers are to incurring medical debt by visiting unapproved doctors or hospitals.

Some numbers suggest a decline in people facing medical debt. About 64 million Americans struggled to pay medical bills in 2014, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund — that's a drop of about 10 million since 2012. Experts have celebrated the decline but cautioned that high-deductible insurance plans could put a damper on those gains.  Of the 64 million the authors said were struggling to pay for care, 38 million, or 59%, were insured the whole year.

There's been some improvement: The same report found 29% of the insured had medical debt or difficulty with medical bills, a drop from 33% in 2012 — while the pool of insured adults grows larger. But analysts caution that absent a significant change in industry or policy, even this group will likely continue to face the prospect of medical debt. More details can be found at this website:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/02/01/consumers-still-struggling-with-medical-debt/22587749/# .

The New York Times reported earlier this year that among those who reported having problems paying their bills despite having insurance, 63 percent said they used up all or most of their savings; 42 percent took on an extra job or more work hours; 14 percent moved or took in roommates; and 11 percent turned to charity. In partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, the study found that roughly 20 percent of people under age 65 with health insurance reported having problems paying their medical bills over the last year. By comparison, 53 percent of people without insurance said the same.

Unlike other polls, which have focused on the ways that insurance affects health care, the new Times-Kaiser survey explored the effects of medical bills on people’s daily lives well beyond the medical system. We found that medical bills don’t just keep people from filling prescriptions and scheduling visits to the doctor. They can also prompt deep financial and personal sacrifices, affecting their housing, employment, credit and daily lives.

 People without health insurance, of course, are more vulnerable to medical bills than those with health coverage. The study found that the people most likely to report bill problems were uninsured, poor or disabled. However, the majority of people struggling with bills are insured. Of the people in the survey reporting difficulty with their medical bills, 34 percent lacked health insurance, 39 percent had insurance through work, 14 percent were covered through public programs and 7 percent had purchased their own health plans. More info is located at this website: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/06/upshot/lost-jobs-houses-savings-even-insured-often-face-crushing-medical-debt.html?_r=0 .

According to the American Journal of Medicine, out-of-pocket medical costs averaged $17,943 for all medically bankrupt families: $26,971 for uninsured patients, $17,749 for those with private insurance at the outset, $14,633 for those with Medicaid, $12,021 for those with Medicare, and $6545 for those with Veterans Affairs/military coverage. For patients who initially had private coverage but lost it, the family’s out-of-pocket expenses averaged $22,568.

Among common diagnoses, non-stroke neurologic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis were associated with the highest out-of-pocket expenditures (mean $34,167), followed by diabetes ($26,971), injuries ($25,096), stroke ($23,380), mental illnesses ($23,178), and heart disease ($21,955).

Hospital bills were the largest single out-of-pocket expense for 48.0% of patients, prescription drugs for 18.6%, doctors’ bills for 15.1%, and premiums for 4.1%. The remainder cited expenses such as medical equipment and nursing homes. While hospital costs loomed largest for all diagnostic groups, for about one third of patients with pulmonary, cardiac, or psychiatric illnesses, prescription drugs were the largest expense.

The AJM interviews indicated the severity of job problems caused by illness. In 37.9% of patients’ families, someone had lost or quit a job because of the medical event; 24.4% had been fired, and 37.1% subsequently regained employment. In 19.9% of families suffering a job loss, the job loser was a caregiver. More details are found here: http://amjmed.org/under-aca-medical-bankruptcy-continues/ 

Due to higher medical expenses and fluctuations in insurance coverage, many families are forced to max out credit cards and chip away at their savings or retirement accounts, and once these funds have been wiped out, the only option left may be bankruptcy. An illness or medical emergency shouldn’t have to become a financial nightmare or lead to so many financial sacrifices. 

With the right resources and information, there are ways you can deal with your medical bills effectively to prevent yourself from falling into medical bankruptcy, according to YouCaring.com. They offer some great tips how to deal with medical bankruptcy at their website: https://www.youcaring.com/blog/2016/how-to-avoid-medical-bankruptcy .

Bankruptcy was designed to resolve debt and get people that second chance they deserve. Ask a local bankruptcy lawyer if filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy could eliminate your debts. An attorney that is versed in bankruptcy laws would be able to provide counsel to you based on your personal situation. Be careful in your choice, and do your research before you choose a law firm that insists they can help alleviate your financial pain and suffering due to an overdose of medical bills. The quick fix may not always be the best answer for you. Everyone’s situation is different based on the amount they owe and their personal financial situation.

Until next time.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Health Care and Zika

A new virus has reared its ugly head. Just when you think SARS, MERSA, Ebola, Chikengunya, Swine and Bird Flus, and a host of other recent critical diseases have been contained, a new bug goes rogue. Currently the World Health Organization and other agencies are tracking the movement of the disease with various mechanisms and reporting.  Zika is primarily a threat to pregnant women due to the potential harm to unborn children.

Zika virus is not new. Outbreaks have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. It is new in the Americas, however. Brazil reported the first case in May 2015, and since then, infections have occurred in at least 20 countries in the Americas. Puerto Rico reported the first locally transmitted infection in December 2015, and Zika cases are now being reported in the United States, all from returning travelers, reported CNN earlier last week. The first case of sexually transmitted Zika was reported in Dallas, Texas, this month from a traveler who returned from Venezuela.

Zika has been called a milder form of dengue fever. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, says the CDC.

It is spread to people through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Although it can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy, it is not otherwise transmitted person to person. People are contracting Zika in areas where those Aedes mosquitoes are present. This includes South America, Central America, the Caribbean and the U.S. mainland. For more information, visit this website: http://qz.com/601302/zika-what-is-it-and-should-you-be-worried-about-it/ .

According to the CDC, there is no vaccine to prevent infection or medicine to treat Zika. CDC has issued a travel notice (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. This notice follows reports in Brazil of microcephaly(http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/microcephaly.html) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

Until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant: Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow those same steps.

Because specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are difficult to determine and likely to change over time, CDC will update this travel notice as information becomes available. Check CDC's Zika Travel Information website frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations. More info is located at this site: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/question-answers.html .

The NY Times reports that health officials in the United States, however, say the risk of a major homegrown outbreak is low because mosquito control programs are systematic and effective. They cite a related virus, dengue, which is also transmitted by mosquitoes but has not spread very much since first appearing locally a few years ago.

The current outbreak of Zika has taken the world by surprise. The virus was first identified in 1947 in Uganda, and for years lived mostly in monkeys. But last May in Brazil, cases began increasing drastically. The W.H.O. has estimated that four million people could be infected by the end of the year. The rapid spread is because people in the Americas have not developed immunity, public health experts say. More info is available at this site: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/02/health/zika-virus-world-health-organization.html .

CNN has reported an update about the current view of the potential threat of Zika. See their report here: http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/02/health/zika-virus-sexual-contact-texas/index.html . In addition, the CDC said there have been documented cases of virus transmission during labor, blood transfusion, and laboratory exposure. While Zika has been found in breast milk, it's not yet confirmed it can be passed to a baby through nursing.

According to PAHO, the Pan American Health Organization, In most people, diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms and epidemiological circumstances (such as Zika outbreak in the patient’s area or trips to areas where the virus is circulating). Blood tests can help to confirm the diagnosis. Some (virological PCR tests) are useful in the first 3-5 days after the onset of symptoms, while others (serological tests) detect the presence of antibodies but are useful only after five days. 

Once it has been demonstrated that the virus is present in a given area or territory, confirmation of all cases is not necessary, and laboratory testing will be adjusted to routine virological surveillance of the disease. Prevention involves reducing mosquito populations and avoiding bites, which occur mainly during the day. Eliminating and controlling Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding sites reduces the chances that Zika, chikungunya, and dengue will be transmitted.

An integrated response is required, involving action in several areas, including health, education, and the environment. To eliminate and control the mosquito, it is recommended to:
·         Avoid allowing standing water in outdoor containers (flower pots, bottles, and containers that collect water) so that they do not become mosquito breeding sites. 
·         Cover domestic water tanks so that mosquitoes cannot get in. 
·         Avoid accumulating garbage: Put it in closed plastic bags and keep it in closed containers. 
·         Unblock drains that could accumulate standing water. 
·         Use screens and mosquito nets in windows and doors to reduce contact between mosquitoes and people. 

To prevent mosquito bites, it is recommended that people who live in areas where there are cases of the disease, as well as travelers and, especially, pregnant women should:  
  • Cover exposed skin with long-sleeved shirts, trousers, and hats.
  • Use repellents recommended by the health authorities (and apply them as indicated on the label).
  • Sleep under mosquito nets. 

People with symptoms of Zika, dengue, or chikungunya should visit a health center. More information is available at this site: http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9183%3A2015-preguntas-frecuentes-virus-fiebre-zika&catid=3986%3Azika-virus-infection&Itemid=41463&lang=en

The Zika virus is no doubt a major health problem, and steps are being taken globally to help prevent and reduce the potential outbreak. For your own sake, practice common sense solutions to this health care issue. If you or someone you know may be symptomatic, see a doctor right away.

Until next time.  

Friday, January 22, 2016

Healthcare and Frostbite

Cold weather is fast approaching and may already be where you are now! Have you ever been so cold that you thought body parts were frozen and ready to fall off? Frostbite is a deadly serious health issue and is common where temperatures get very low, especially during the winter months. Some areas of the world are more prone to frigid weather, and the fear of getting frozen flesh is very real.

When the storms howl and the ice and snow get deep, often the temps get very cold. Wind chill is also a factor that takes the real temperature to a much colder “feels like” temperature. That can be dangerous. If your exposed to bitter cold for too long, you can develop frost bite.

The elderly and children are especially at risk during very cold weather. According to KidsHealth.org, frostbite is, literally, frozen body tissue — usually the skin, but sometimes deeper tissue. It must be managed carefully to prevent permanent tissue damage. The varying degrees of frostbite are based on how deep the tissue injury goes. Mild cases affect a superficial area of the skin, while the most severe cases can go all the way down to the muscle and bone. The areas most prone to frostbite are the head, face, ears, hands, and feet.

Kids are at greater risk for frostbite than most adults, both because they lose heat from their skin more rapidly and because they're often reluctant to leave their winter fun to go inside and warm up. Frostbite needs medical attention from a health care provider. More info on this topic is found at this website: http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/emergencies/frostbite.html.

According to the National Institutes for Health, symptoms of frostbite include the following:
·         Pins and needles feeling, followed by numbness
·         Hard, pale, and cold skin that has been exposed to the cold for too long
·         Aching, throbbing or lack of feeling in the affected area
·         Red and extremely painful skin and muscle as the area thaws
·         Very severe frostbite may cause:
·         Blisters
·         Gangrene (blackened, dead tissue)
·         Damage to tendons, muscles, nerves, and bone

Frostbite may affect any part of the body. The hands, feet, nose, and ears are the places most prone to the problem.
·         If the frostbite did not affect your blood vessels, a complete recovery is possible.
·         If the frostbite affected the blood vessels, the damage is permanent. Gangrene may occur. This may require removal of the affected body part (amputation).

A person with frostbite on the arms or legs may also have hypothermia (lowered body temperature). Much more detailed information is located at this site: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000057.htm .

The University of Maryland Medical Center has published info on who is most at risk for getting frostbite. These factors increase the risk for frostbite:
·         Intoxication with alcohol or other substances
·         Very young or very old age
·         Cardiovascular disease
·         Peripheral vascular disease (narrowing of blood vessels in the extremities)
·         Poor circulation
·         Taking beta-blockers
·         Diabetes
·         Hypothyroidism
·         Exhaustion, hunger, malnutrition, or dehydration
·         Winter sports, especially at high altitudes
·         Outdoor work
·         Windy and or wet weather
·         Homelessness
·         Severe injury
·         Smoking
·         Depression
·         Previous frostbite
·         Skin damage
·         Constricting clothing and footwear

If you are going to be outside in cold temperatures, it's essential to prevent frostbite. Take these steps to keep warm:
·         Wear several layers of warm clothing that allow you to move while providing protection from wind and water.
·         Wear dry, warm gloves, socks, and insulated boots. Hands and feet account for 90 percent of injuries.
·         Replace wet clothes immediately.
·         Cover your head, preferably with earflaps, in extreme conditions. About 30% of heat loss occurs through the head.
·         Drink plenty of fluids and eat plenty of food during lengthy outings. Do not drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or drink caffeine.
·         Watch for the development of white patches on the face and ears of your companions. These may signal frostbite.

Frostbite is a medical emergency. It is important to get conventional medical care as soon as possible. For more detailed material, go to this site: http://umm.edu/Health/Medical-Reference-Guide/Complementary-and-Alternative-Medicine-Guide/Condition/Frostbite .

If you need to be traveling on the road in severe cold weather, here are some safety tips from the Loudon County, Virginia sheriff’s office for you if you’re driving in winter weather. Following these guidelines may help prevent your need to get outside of your vehicle if you have any problems on the road:

·         Do not travel unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to make the trip, ensure someone is aware of your route of travel.
·         Always keep the gas tank topped off. When it gets to half, fill it up.
·         Turn on your headlights.
·         Carry a cellular phone. Your cell phone can be used during emergencies and for notifying those expecting your arrival in case there are weather delays.
·         Always buckle-up. Your seat belt can be the best protection against drivers who are tense and in a hurry because of weather conditions.
·         Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights - even the hood and roof - before driving.
·         Pay attention. Don't try to out-drive the conditions. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
·         Leave plenty of room for stopping.
·         Leave room for maintenance vehicles and plows - stay back a safe stopping distance and don't pass on the right.
·         Know the current road conditions. Make sure you have your highway patrol rescue number plugged into your phone.
·         Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly. It takes more time to stop in adverse conditions.
·         Watch for slippery bridges, even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition. Bridges will ice up sooner than the adjacent pavement.
·         Don't use your cruise control in wintry conditions. Even roads that appear clear can have sudden slippery spots and the short touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control feature can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
·         Don't get overconfident in your 4x4 vehicle. Remember that your four-wheel drive vehicle may help you get going quicker than other vehicles but it won't help you stop any faster. 

Frostbite is not something you want to experience; but if you feel that you or someone you are with is showing symptoms, seek treatment immediately and don’t delay if at all possible. Your health and life are at risk.

Until next time.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Health Care and Throat Nodules (Nodes)

Do you know anyone who has suffered from nodes or nodules on their vocal chords? Typically it comes from overuse of the throat and vocal chords by singers, public speakers and others who do a lot of talking or singing for a living. Many performers deal with it as part of their hazardous vocal needs. Sometimes it is called "Screamer's Voice."

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology (AAO), the term vocal cord lesion refers to a group of noncancerous (benign), abnormal growths (lesions) within or along the covering of the vocal cord. Vocal cord lesions are one of the most common causes of voice problems and are generally seen in three forms; nodules (nodes), polyps, and cysts.

The AAO says that vocal cord nodules are also known as calluses of the vocal fold. They appear on both sides of the vocal cords, typically at the midpoint, and directly face each other. Like other calluses, these lesions often diminish or disappear when overuse of the area is stopped. More details are found at their site: http://www.entnet.org/content/nodules-polyps-and-cysts .

Nodules and polyps, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, cause similar symptoms:
·         Hoarseness
·         Breathiness
·         A "rough" voice
·         A "scratchy" voice
·         Harshness
·         Shooting pain from ear to ear
·         A "lump in the throat" sensation
·         Neck pain
·         Decreased pitch range
·         Voice and body fatigue

If you have experienced a hoarse voice for more than 2 to 3 weeks, you should see a physician. A thorough voice evaluation should include:
·         a physician's examination, preferably by an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) who specializes in voice,
·         a voice evaluation by a speech-language pathologist (SLP), and
possibly a neurological examination.

The team will evaluate vocal quality, pitch, loudness, ability to sustain voicing, and other voice characteristics. An instrumental examination may take place that involves inserting an endoscope into the mouth or nose to look at the vocal cords and larynx in general. A stroboscope (flashing light) may be used to watch the vocal cords as they move. Much more detail on vocal nodes is located at this site: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/NodulesPolyps/ .

A doctor makes the diagnosis by examining the vocal cords with a mirror or a thin, flexible viewing tube (laryngoscopy), according to Merck Manuals. Sometimes the doctor removes a small piece of tissue for examination under a microscope (biopsy) to make sure the growth is not cancerous (malignant).

Treatment is to avoid whatever is irritating the voice box (larynx) and rest the voice. If abuse of the voice is the cause, voice therapy conducted by a speech therapist may be needed to teach the person how to speak or sing without straining the vocal cords. Most nodules and granulomas go away with this treatment.

Granulomas that do not go away can be removed surgically but tend to come back. Most polyps must be surgically removed to restore the person's normal voice. More info can be found at this website: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/mouth-and-throat-disorders/vocal-cord-polyps,-nodules,-and-granulomas .

According to the British Voice Association, if you have symptoms that suggest you may have vocal nodules:
·         Seek a medical opinion from a Laryngologist experienced with voice problems. The best solution is to ask your primary care doctor for a referral to a multidisciplinary voice clinic.
·         Whenever possible rest your voice and avoid speaking against noise, shouting or coughing violently.
·         Inhale steam to soothe irritated and swollen vocal folds.
·         Keep well hydrated and avoid inhaled irritants, such as smoke.
·         If you are a singer discuss suitable warm up exercises with your singing teacher and do not try to sing high and quiet – you will be doomed to disappointment until the nodules have resolved.
·         If your Laryngologist refers you to a speech and language therapist take up the option and work hard on the exercises you are given. Voice therapy is like physiotherapy or Pilates for the voice and may well be all you need to resolve the nodules.
·         If your Laryngologist suggests surgery, do not panic! It may well be the quickest and most effective way to deal with the problem. Ask your Laryngologist to explain exactly what they will do at surgery and why they feel it is the best treatment option. Discuss any worries you have openly.
·         Don't beat yourself up about it! Vocal nodules are not a crime or even necessarily the result of "bad technique". They are an injury, much as a marathon runner might sustain during training or a race.

Although vocal nodules remain a problem for professional voice users and may cause some cancelled shows, delays in training, a lot of hard work and inevitably some anxiety, they are very unlikely to herald the end of a career. More details are located at this site: http://www.britishvoiceassociation.org.uk/voice-information_vocal-nodules.htm .

Having nodules or nodes on your throat should not be taken lightly. Seek professional medical advice to help your situation. Your doctor can prescribe treatment or suggest more advanced options for care. Don’t continue to ignore the symptoms, and do what the doctor says!

Until next time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Health Care and Diabetes

One of the most difficult health care management issues today is controlling the rise in cases of diabetes. Chronic disease management costs and care have increased substantially with the disease over the past decade.  The medical community has declared diabetes to be an epidemic within current society, and it appears to be getting worse each year.

However, in a sign that Americans may finally be turning the corner in the fight against diabetes -- and possibly obesity -- federal health statistics released this month show that the number of new cases of diabetes has dropped for the first time in decades and reported by HealthDay News. The decline wasn't sudden or dramatic. But, the number of new diabetes cases went from 1.7 million in 2009 to 1.4 million in 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report offers some encouraging indications that Americans may finally be adopting healthier lifestyles. For example, fewer whites are now being diagnosed with diabetes -- typically type 2 diabetes, by far the most common form of the disease. But, blacks and Hispanics haven't seen significant declines in diagnoses even though a downward trend is starting to emerge, the CDC report showed. Educated Americans also have seen improvements in diabetes diagnoses, while the less educated have only seen a flattening in the number of new cases, the report found.

Today, diabetes takes more lives than AIDS and breast cancer combined -- claiming the life of 1 American every 3 minutes. It is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart failure and stroke. Living with diabetes places an enormous emotional, physical and financial burden on the entire family. Annually, diabetes costs the American public more than $245 billion, according to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.

Just what is diabetes? To answer that, you first need to understand the role of insulin in your body. When you eat, your body turns food into sugars, or glucose. At that point, your pancreas is supposed to release insulin. Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, to allow the glucose to enter -- and allow you to use the glucose for energy.

But with diabetes, this system does not work. Several major things can go wrong – causing the onset of diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the most common forms of the disease, but there are also other kinds, such as gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, as well as other forms. Much more information about this disease is located at this site: http://www.diabetesresearch.org/what-is-diabetes .

According to the American Diabetes Association, the following symptoms of diabetes are typical. However, some people with type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed. Common symptoms of diabetes include the following:
·         Urinating often
·         Feeling very thirsty
·         Feeling very hungry - even though you are eating
·         Extreme fatigue
·         Blurry vision
·         Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
·         Weight loss - even though you are eating more (type 1)
·         Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes. Significant material about this health care problem is found at this website: http://www.diabetes.org/ .

Metformin is the standby drug for millions of people with type 2 diabetes, but a new study finds that adding it to insulin therapy won't boost blood sugar control for overweight teens with type 1 diabetes, according to HealthDay News.

In type 1 diabetes, which comprises about 5 percent of diabetes cases, the body is unable to produce the insulin it needs. So, supplemental insulin is a must for people with the disease. The new study was led by Kellee Miller of the Jaeb Center for Health Research in Tampa, Fla. As her team explained, young people with type 1 diabetes are at even higher metabolic risk if they become overweight or obese, especially in adolescence.

That's because both obesity and puberty may cause the patient to require higher levels of supplemental insulin, complicating blood sugar control, the researchers said. However, prior studies of how Metformin might affect blood sugar control in teens with type 1 diabetes have been inconclusive, Miller's team noted. More details on this news is located at this website: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_155990.html

Managing diabetes is a challenge every day. There are so many variables to keep in mind -- food, exercise, stress, general health, etc. -- that keeping blood sugar levels in the desired range is a constant balancing act.

Men and women whose underlying biological clock does not match the sleep hours imposed by modern work schedules have metabolic risk factors that may predispose them to a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to a new study published online in November in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

The work is the first to link so-called "social jet lag" with increased metabolic risk in middle-aged adults. Social jet lag refers to the disconnect between a person's natural circadian rhythm and the restrictions placed on it by social and work obligations. So, even your work habits can affect the possibility of contracting diabetes.

According to eDocAmerica, recent statistics also indicate that people with type 2 diabetes mellitus have nearly twice the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease as people without diabetes. While the exact reason for this is still being investigated, several interesting findings connecting the two diseases have emerged.

The American Diabetes Association reports that in 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population had diabetes. Of these, 90 to 95% have Type 2 diabetes. While both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are characterized by high blood sugar, the mechanism for the development of each type is very different. Type 1 diabetes is considered to be an autoimmune disease in which the cells within the pancreas that produce insulin are destroyed, resulting in a deficiency of insulin.

Without insulin to move sugar from the bloodstream into the body's cells, blood sugar rises. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is considered a disease of "lifestyle". Poor diet, inactivity, and obesity are major reasons for its development. In type 2 diabetes elevated blood sugar levels are initially due to the body's inability to use insulin effectively. This is known as "insulin resistance" and is associated with higher than normal insulin levels.

In addition to significantly increasing one's risk of heart attack and stroke, Type 2 diabetes mellitus is associated with a number of other medical complications including:
·         Blindness from diabetic retinopathy
·         Reduced blood flow in the feet and legs requiring amputations
·         Kidney failure
·         Nerve damage and ulcerations of the feet

If these problems weren't enough, add in the recent findings that Type 2 diabetes may also contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease.  More details about this subject are located at this site: http://weeklyhealthtip.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-link-between-type-2-diabetes-and.html .

Diabetes is a disease that still is being researched on a daily basis, and new issues are discovered on a regular basis as to the cause and treatment of it. There are varying degrees of health care issues with the disease, and management of it is serious. If you or someone you know has diabetes or may be symptomatic, see your doctor for a medical protocol. Don’t ignore its affects on your life—it can be deadly if left untreated.

Until next time.