Monthly Archives: May 2014

How to Count Carbs

Carb-Counting Tips

The different types of carbs, how they affect your blood sugar, and which are best for your diet.

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Heart Disease Warning Signs

Spot the Symptoms of Heart Disease

Diabetes raises your risk of heart disease. Learn the early warning signs and how to prevent a heart attack.
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6 Early Warning Signs of Vision Loss

Eyesight tends to disappear more gradually than suddenly. In fact, the warning signs of vision loss in adults can be so subtle that you don’t even notice them until a “nuisance” complaint, like trouble focusing or irritation, sends you for an overdue eye exam. That’s when an unrelated but more serious vision robber, like glaucoma, may be discovered.

“That’s why a baseline exam at age 40 is important,” says San Francisco ophthalmologist Andrew Iwach, a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “You may not have major symptoms, yet have a major problem.”

Certain warning signs of vision loss, however, can be seen right under — er, over our noses.

Warning sign: Your vision is clear one minute, fuzzy a few hours later.

Might be: Diabetic retinopathy. Fluctuating clarity — sometimes you see fine, sometimes everything’s blurry — may mean that you have a chronic condition such as uncontrolled type 2 diabetes or uncontrolled high blood pressure that can damage the fine blood vessels of the retina, causing vision damage.

Watch for: Changes in visual clarity that happen throughout the day. Some people find it difficult to continue to do close tasks, such as reading or sewing. Pay attention to whether you have other possible signs of diabetes or high blood pressure. If you’re diagnosed with one of these conditions, take special care to have regular eye exams. The odds of developing retinal damage increase the longer you have diabetes.

Warning sign: You’ve had a recent and inexplicable traffic accident.

Might be: Glaucoma. Admittedly, a million things can cause a fender-bender. But a loss of peripheral (side-to-side) vision is a key warning sign of glaucoma, a silent disease in which building pressure on the optic nerve begins to obscure vision because images can’t be fully transmitted to the brain. Several studies have found that drivers with glaucoma have an increased risk of accidents, according to a 2011 Review of Ophthalmology report. A 2008 study paired glaucoma patients with a driving instructor and found they needed six times as many interventions from the instructor than age-matched control drivers did.

Watch for: Bumping into things or people is another indicator of losing side vision. Noticing behaviors is useful, Iwach says. The reason: “People don’t usually recognize when they lose side vision because it happens slowly and the eye is designed so well that it compensates for changes until late in the disease.” Because it’s essentially symptomless, most glaucoma is caught during routine exams.

Warning sign: There’s a frustrating dark or empty patch at the center of your vision.

Might be: Age-related macular degeneration. AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over age 50, according to the American Optometric Association. Changes to macula, part of the retina, cause this incurable sight-stealer. (A less common form, called “wet macular degeneration,” can be treated with lasers.)

Watch for: Look at a straight line and it may appear wavy. Sometimes people with macular degeneration bob their heads a bit as they try to see “around” the smudgy patch. People with AMD may have trouble reading street signs, or they may give up reading or other close work, such as needlework. There may also be changes to color perception — everything looks a little washed out.

Four Myths About How to Act When Someone’s Dying

People often adhere to a code of conduct about the end of life that’s just not rooted in common sense or reality — especially when it comes to how to talk to someone who’s dying, in their final days or hours. Hospice nurse Maggie Callanan, who has attended more than 2,000 deaths, wrote her book Final Journeys: A Practical Guide for Bringing Care and Comfort at the End of Life in order to take on these myths:

Myth: Don’t cry in front of the dying.
They know you’re sad. Having the courage to bare your emotions gives the dying person permission to be candid about his or her own feelings. Your tears are evidence of your love. And they can also be a relief to the person, telegraphing that you understand what’s happening.

Myth: Keep the children away.
People often steer kids away from death so they’ll remember the person in a good light and not be frightened. But most kids do well with simple explanations of what’s happening; facts are usually less scary than their vivid imaginations. By cordoning off a child from a natural part of life, you also deprive the dying person of a beloved, comforting presence.

Myth: Don’t talk about how you expect your life will change after the dying person has passed away.
It’s not like they’ll feel left out. You can be sure the dying person is thinking about your life after his or her death — people are often deeply concerned about this. It’s reassuring to hear that loved ones will look after one another.

Myth: If you don’t deal with death well, it’s OK to stay away.
Some people excuse themselves from visiting a dying person with phrases like, “I hate hospitals” or “I want to remember X the way she was.” This is saying that your discomfort is more important than the dying person’s final needs.

“You have a responsibility,” Callanan says. “If someone has played a positive part in your life, that person deserves your attention as his or her life is ending. I’ve seen too many devastated people dying too sadly, waiting for someone who never came.”