Monthly Archives: December 2013

What Do You Know About Stroke?

Test your knowledge of symptoms and risk factors, and learn how to lower your risk of stroke.
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  • A Visual Guide to Understanding Stroke
  • 14 Exercises to Lower Your Blood Pressure
  • Regaining Arm Movement After a Stroke
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How Glucose Affects the Body

Diabetes mellitus leads to persistently elevated blood sugar levels. Over time, high sugar levels damage the body and can lead to the multiple health problems associated with diabetes.

But why are high blood sugars so bad for you? How much sugar in the blood is too much? And what are good sugar levels, anyway? WebMD takes a look at how your sugar level affects diabetes and your health.

 Diabetes and Normal Blood Sugar Levels

At present, the diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes is based in an arbitrary cut-off point for a normal blood sugar level. A normal sugar level is currently considered to be less than 100 mg/dL when fasting and less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating. But in most healthy people, sugar levels are even lower.

During the day, blood glucose levels tend to be at their lowest just before meals. For most people without diabetes, blood sugar levels before meals hover around 70 to 80 mg/dL. In some, 60 is normal; in others, 90. Again, anything less than 100 mg/dL while fasting is considered normal by today’s standards.

What’s a low sugar level? It varies widely, too. Many people’s sugar levels won’t ever fall below 60 mg/dL, even with prolonged fasting. When you diet or fast, the liver keeps sugar levels normal by turning fat and muscle into sugar. A few people’s sugar levels may fall somewhat lower. Without taking diabetes medicine, though, or having uncommon medical problems, it’s difficult to drop sugar levels to an unsafe point.

Sugar Levels, Diabetes, and Prediabetes

Sugar levels higher than normal mean either diabetes or pre-diabetes is present.

There are several ways diabetes is diagnosed:
  • The first is known as a fasting plasma glucose test. A person is said to have diabetes if his or her fasting blood sugar level is higher than 126 mg/dL after not eating — fasting — for eight hours.
  • The second method is with an oral glucose tolerance test. After fasting for eight hours, a person is given a special sugary drink. That person is said to have diabetes if two hours after the drink he or she has a sugar level higher than 200.
  • The third way is with a randomly checked blood sugar level. If it is greater than 200, with symptoms of increased urination, thirst, and/or weight loss, that person is said to have diabetes. A fasting sugar level or oral glucose tolerance test will be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

But diabetes is not like a switch that gets turned on and off — healthy one day, diabetic the next. Any sugar levels higher than normal are unhealthy. A blood sugar higher than normal, but not meeting the above criteria for full-blown diabetes, is called prediabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 79 million people in the U.S. have prediabetes. People with prediabetes are five to six times more likely to develop diabetes over time. Prediabetes also increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, although not as much as diabetes does. It’s possible to prevent the progression of prediabetes to diabetes, with diet and exercise.

 
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6 Vision-Boosting Tips for Someone With Dementia

Some of the confusion of dementia can actually be the result of low vision. The good news: This kind of trouble is reversible. How you can help:

  1. Make cleaning the person’s glasses part of the morning routine. A rinse under tap water is fine. You might be surprised how oblivious your loved one can be to cloudy lenses.
  2. Keep a spare pair, since those who wear glasses are prone to losing them. Or just keep on hand the most recent old pair.
  3. Check through the day that glasses are on. If your loved one misplaces them, he or she may forget to keep looking and not even realize they’re missing.
  4. Turn on extra lights, so the house is well lit — especially at night.
  5. Always bring glasses to the hospital, and make sure your loved one has access to them whenever possible. Glasses are often taken off for procedures or exams and then not returned, and someone with dementia can forget to ask for them.
  6. Keep up regular eye exams. This simple step can correct vision problems that are mistaken for signs of worsening dementia yet have nothing at all to do with brain function.

Quick Links

* What’s the best way to keep someone from wandering at night?
* Decoding the secret language of Alzheimer’s
* When you need a break, in-home care providers can help

Diet 911: After You Overeat

What to do after you’ve blown your calorie budget.
 
By Daphne Sashin
WebMD Feature

 Holiday parties, gourmet meals, and celebratory dinners can easily get a little (or a lot) more decadent than you expected. Let’s face it: Everyone blows his or her calorie budget every now and then.

Do you need to worry? Is that old dieter’s saying, “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips” really true? And what should you do next?

 

Weight Loss Made Easier

 

Resolved to finally lose weight this year? Check out these tools, tips and tricks from WebMD that might help make it just a little less difficult.

 
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 Here’s what medical experts, registered dietitians, and weight management specialists say about the damage done by one-time splurges and their tips for getting back on track.

Relax (For a Moment)

The good news is, one meal is not going to ruin you if you eat sensibly and exercise regularly the rest of the time and get back to your routine, experts say. You need to eat 3,500 calories to gain one pound of body fat, so it’s unlikely that a single overindulgence will show up on the scale.

“We call these ‘taking time-outs,’ and we all take them,” says Rebecca S. Reeves, DrPH, RD, assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “No one is perfect in their eating habits. What we have to learn is that we are giving ourselves permission to do this, and as soon as it’s over, we should go back to the eating plan we normally follow. This does not give us permission to continue to overeat and binge.”

The problem is, overeating is not a one-time affair for most Americans, says cardiologist Allen Dollar, MD, chief of cardiology at Grady Memorial Hospital and assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

 
“Most people overeat somewhere between 500 and 1,500 calories every single day,” Dollar says. “If they don’t consciously think about their dietary intake every day, they will be overweight.”

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Too many dieters throw in the towel after a splurge, says Kathleen M. Laquale, PhD, a licensed nutritionist, athletic trainer, and associate professor at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.

“You may feel defeated and say, ‘Oh I blew my diet, and I’ll just eat the whole Christmas season and the heck with it,” Laquale says. “When you do overindulge, don’t be self-deprecating. You overeat for one day; let’s get back on track again. Let’s be more conscious of our portion sizes the next day.”

Think of Your Diet Over the Course of Several Days

It’s typical to eat more sensibly during the week and take in more calories on the weekend, says Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, clinical associate professor at Boston University.

So if you eat more calories than you should at a party on a weeknight, consider that one of your “weekend” days and compensate for it accordingly.

“In other words, you had a party on a Tuesday, and that party was quite fun and it almost became like a Saturday,” Salge Blake says. “Just make sure that the days that come after that festive occasion reflect more of the structured Monday-through-Thursday eating pattern, rather than the weekend.”

 
 
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