Benefits To Alternative And Integrative Medicine

Benefits To Alternative And Integrative Medicine

Integrative Medicine is Sweeping Hospitals Across the US, Have You Heard of It?

At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center, we treat our patients – not their symptoms. Our focus on integrative medicine means that we treat the whole person. Integrative medicine is holistic and preventative – focusing on complete health. So, how is integrative medicine different from other medicinal practices? 

The National Institutes of Health has many definitions of “integrative” medicine online. They all share one similarity though, in bringing conventional and alternative approaches together. Traditional Medicine, also known as western or standard medicine, is too often reactive. 

 

Overuse of antibiotics has led to antibiotic-resistant bugs. Medical costs are out of control. Still, there are many important reasons to use conventional medical treatments. For this reason, integrative medicine is gaining recognition across the United States.

 

Researchers are exploring the use of integrative medicine in a variety of settings. With gaining popularity and increased use in hospitals, research has continued to grow. 

 

Conventional medicine treats the symptoms or disease that the patient is experiencing. Most doctors don’t see their patients enough for preventative medicine. Is integrative medicine so much different?

Here Are Some Reasons You Should Try Integrative Medicine:

  1. There must be an ongoing relationship between the doctor and the patient. This relationship is at the core of integrative medicine. By focusing on your health while you are healthy, you can prevent disease and illness. Integrative medicine combines this holistic and proactive thinking with conventional and alternative medicines. Why wouldn’t you want the best of all worlds?

 

  1. Your treatment is unique to your needs with all options considered. Your treatment can include pharmaceutical and OTC medications, Vitamins, Supplements, Injections, and Surgeries. A sophisticated combination of conventional and alternative medicine based on your unique needs. By consulting one doctor who works with both, you will avoid any harmful interactions. Don’t let any treatment options go unexplored – try integrative medicine to get the full story.

 

  1. We treat you as a whole person – not your symptoms. This means that your “treatment” begins when you’re healthy and focuses on keeping you that way. When you are not feeling well – we try to fix it early. It also means that we look at every part of you – your mind, body, and soul. We absolutely can make ourselves physically ill by being mentally down. By treating the full person, we can stop some illnesses before it even starts.

 

  • All-Natural:

Have you ever tried reading the ingredients on your medicine bottle? Most of the time, it’s impossible to even pronounce half of one of the words on the list of chemicals and additives, let alone know what they do to your body or where they come from. Many prescription and over-the-counter medicines use harmful chemicals that, while possibly addressing and helping with certain problems, can actually cause more harm to your body than it does good. We’ve all heard the drug commercials that fire off the long list of possible side effects near the end of each advertisement, all of which sound worse than the symptoms the drug is supposed to treat.

With holistic medicine from the doctors at Comprehensive Health, you’ll get all-natural treatment and therapies that don’t use harmful chemicals, dyes, or additives. The medicines we use here are made from all-natural means, and our therapies won’t leave you hurting even worse than you were before you stopped in. With natural medication and therapy from a trusted doctor, you’ll get back to feeling like yourself in no time at all.

  • Non-Invasive:

One of the reasons traditional therapies can be so harmful to your health is because many traditional surgeries use invasive techniques. This means a surgeon will have to cut you open and fix a problem on the inside of your body. If you’ve ever experienced a cut of any kind, you already know that they can be extremely painful. Well that pain doesn’t go away just because someone with 16 years or more of college is cutting you open. Sometimes, invasive surgeries can cause even more harm than they do good, as the problem can be deep inside a patient or in a highly sensitive area. These surgeries can leave patients with months or possibly even years of healing, rehabilitation, and physical therapy just to get back to the point they were at before the surgery.

At Comprehensive Health, we use non-invasive assessments and therapies in order to help you heal in an all-natural, healthy way. With our integrative therapies, you’ll need little to no recovery time at all, helping you feel better while getting you back to your preferred lifestyle quicker than traditional means. Our alternative medicine doctors will also go over every aspect of your therapy before you decide to go through with it, so you’ll know what to expect and feel comfortable in your decision.

  • Heals You:

As we said before, traditional medicine uses chemicals that can cause different reactions and symptoms in your body than just healing. Medicines that don’t cause other symptoms oftentimes do little to nothing to actually heal your body. Traditional medicines have a tendency to usually just mask the problems or symptoms, causing you to come back to your medication time and time again in order to function normally. All the while, your medication could be hurting you even more with side effects and harmful symptoms rather than actually helping you heal or getting rid of the symptoms you originally took the medication for.

Alternative medicine is a term that describes medical treatments that are used instead of traditional (mainstream) therapies. 

Some people also refer to it as “integrative,” or “complementary” medicine.

More than half of adults in the United States say they use some form of alternative medicine. But exactly what types of therapies are considered alternatives?

Holistic Medicine

At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center, holistic medicine goes beyond simply getting rid of the symptoms but considering the whole person and the situation. Our holistic practitioners view symptoms as signals that something is out of normal. They view each patient as a whole instead of an ache or a pain. They view a patient’s physical, mental, environmental, and spiritual aspects that all need to be addressed and kept in balance before any attempt at a cure can really work.

Holistic, often use practices referred to as alternative medicine. These can include herbal solutions, nutritional solutions, ayurvedic applications, exercise, yoga, meditation and traditional Chinese medicine applications. They do not discount modern medicine or its treatments, but rather utilize these more traditional therapies in conjunction with holistic approaches.

Holistic practitioners encourage patients to participate with an active role to facilitate their own healing. They encourage patients to be committed to making the changes necessary to improve their health.

Antioxidant Therapy in Diabetic Complications

Antioxidant Therapy in Diabetic Complications

In diabetes oxidative stress plays a key role in the pathogenesis of vascular complications, and an early step of such damage is considered the development of an endothelial dysfunction. Hyperglycemia directly promotes an endothelial dysfunction inducing process of overproduction of superoxide and consequently peroxynitrite that damages DNA and activates the nuclear enzyme (ADP-ribose) polymerase. 

This process, depleting NAD+, slowing glycolysis, ATP formation and electron transport, results in acute endothelial dysfunction in diabetic blood vessels and contributes to the development of diabetic complications. Classic antioxidants, like vitamin E, failed to show beneficial effects on diabetic complications probably due to their only “symptomatic” action. It is now evident that statins, ACE inhibitors, AT-1 blockers, calcium channel blockers and thiazolidinediones have a strong intracellular antioxidant activity, and it has been suggested that many of their beneficial ancillary effects are due to this property. 

Statins increase NO bioavailability and decrease superoxide production, probably interfering with NAD(P)H activity and modulating eNOS expression. ACE inhibitors and AT-1 blockers prevent hyperglycemia-derived oxidative stress modulating angiotensin action and production. This effect is of particular interest because hyperglycemia is able to directly modulate cellular angiotensin generation. Calcium channel blockers inhibit the peroxidation of cell membrane lipids and their subsequent intracellular translocation. Thiazolinediones bind and activate the nuclear peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, a nuclear receptor of ligand-dependent transcription factors. The inhibition of these receptors lead to inhibition of the inducible nitric oxide synthase and consequently reduction of peroxynitrite generation. This preventive activity against oxidative stress generation can justify a large utilization and association of this compound for preventing complications in diabetic patients, where antioxidant defenses have been shown to be defective.

What is oxidative stress?

Oxidative stress is defined in general as excess formation and/or insufficient removal of highly reactive molecules such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) ROS include free radicals such as superoxide (•O2-), hydroxyl (•OH), peroxyl (•RO2), hydroperoxyl (•HRO2-) as well as nonradical species such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and hydrochloric acid (HOCl) . RNS include free radicals like nitric oxide (•NO) and nitrogen dioxide (•NO2-), as well as nonradicals such as peroxynitrite (ONOO-), nitrous oxide (HNO2) and alkyl peroxy nitrates (RONOO) . Of these reactive molecules, •O2-, •NO and ONOO- are the most widely studied species and play important roles in the diabetic cardiovascular complications. Thus, these species will be discussed in more detail.

  • NO is normally produced from L-arginine by endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in the vasculature. •NO mediates endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation by its action on guanylate cyclase in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC), initiating a cascade that leads to vasorelaxation. •NO also displays antiproliferative properties and inhibits platelet and leukocyte adhesion to vascular endothelium. Therefore, •NO is considered a vasculoprotective molecule. However, •NO easily reacts with superoxide, generating the highly reactive molecule ONOO-, and triggering a cascade of harmful events as discussed below. Therefore its chemical environment, i.e. presence of •O2-, determines whether •NO exerts protective or harmful effects.

Hyperglycemia, Oxidative Stress, And Endothelial Dysfunction

At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center we know that vascular function in diabetes has been studied extensively in both animal models and humans. Impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilation has been a consistent finding in animal models of diabetes induced by alloxan or streptozotocin. Similarly, studies in humans with type 1 or type 2 diabetes have found endothelial dysfunction when compared with vascular function in nondiabetic subjects.

In vitro, the direct role of hyperglycemia has been suggested by evidence that arteries isolated from normal animals, which are subsequently exposed to exogenous hyperglycemia, also exhibit attenuated endothelium-dependent relaxation. Consistently, in vivo studies have also demonstrated that hyperglycemia directly induces, both in diabetic and normal subjects, an endothelial dysfunction.

The role of free radicals generation in producing the hyperglycemia-dependent endothelial dysfunction is suggested by studies showing that both in vitro and in vivo, the acute effects of hyperglycemia is counterbalanced by antioxidants.

Increased superoxide production in endothelial cells during hyperglycemia: the unifying hypothesis for the development of diabetic complications

Brownlee recently pointed out the key role of superoxide production in endothelial cells at the mitochondrial level during hyperglycemia in the pathogenesis of diabetic complications. This new insight is consistent with the four pathways suggested to be involved in the development of diabetic complications (increased polyol pathway flux, increased advanced glycosylation end product formation, activation of protein kinase C, and increased hexosamine pathway flux) and with a unifying hypothesis regarding the effects of hyperglycemia on cellular dysfunction. The authors used endothelial cells subjected to physiologically relevant glucose concentrations as a model system for analyzing the vascular response to hyperglycemia because the non-insulin-dependent glucose transporter GLUT1 facilitated diffusion of high levels of glucose into the endothelium. In the presence of increased glucose, endothelial generation of reactive oxygen species, particularly superoxide anion, was shown to be enhanced. Several pathways can be considered as likely candidates for oxygen free radical formation in cells. These include NAD(P)H oxidase, the mitochondrial respiratory chain, xanthine oxidase, the arachidonic cascade (lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase), and microsomal enzymes. Brownlee et al. have determined that the source of free radicals in endothelial cells incubated in high glucose is the transport of glycolysis-derived pyruvate in mitochondria at the level of complex II (succinate:ubiquinone oxidoreductase), one of the four inner membrane–associated complexes central to oxidative phosphorylation. The data in the papers  indicate that, at least in the cell culture, endothelium in an environment mimicking physiological hyperglycemia cannot control its appetite for glucose. Accelerated flux of glucose through glycolysis and feeding of pyruvate (thus formed) to the tricarboxylic acid cycle overloads mitochondria, causing excessive generation of free radicals. Although oxygen free radicals have been shown to have a physiological role in signal transduction, their sustained generation at the levels shown in endothelial cells exposed to high glucose can be expected to have substantial effects on cellular properties. Each of the pathways implicated in secondary complications of diabetes has been shown to arise by a single unifying mechanism. A central contribution of the works of Brownlee et al.  is to demonstrate that suppression of intracellular free radicals, using low molecular inhibitors or by expression of the antioxidant enzyme manganese-superoxide dismutase, prevents each of these events (i.e., glucose-induced formation of oxidants is a proximal step in cell perturbation).

Handling Hypoglycemia

Handling Hypoglycemia

Do you get a buzz from your morning coffee or smoothie, but lose steam with each passing hour?    Maybe you get cranky, tired, shaky, and light-headed; it’s harder to stay focused. And then you feel a lift after lunch, but you crash in the late afternoon?     You eagerly await your 4 o’clock coffee or chocolate chip muffin – and that almost holds you until dinnertime… If these ups and downs sound familiar, you may be struggling with low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia?

  Low blood sugars are one of the sucky realities of living with diabetes. Luckily, the symptoms are easy to spot if you can feel them and know what to look for!   Education is key for early intervention to reverse hypoglycemia. Specifically, the most common signs of low blood sugar are:  
  • Fatigue, Weakness, or Clumsiness
  • Feeling Lightheaded or Dizzy
  • Anxiety, Irritability, Impatience
  • Sweating or Clamminess
  • Feeling of Shakiness
  • Pale Skin
  • Ravenous Hunger
  • Rapid/Racing Heartbeat
  • Numbness/Tingling of the face
If the blood glucose drops are more severe, the symptoms can also include:  
  • Confusion
  • Erratic Behavior
  • Blurred Vision
  • Seizures
  • Loss of Consciousness

“Hidden” Low Blood Sugar 

  At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center we know you may not have the classic symptoms of low blood sugar, like those mentioned above. Blood sugar dysregulation may show in less obvious ways, such as:   You may even have a very healthy diet and normal body weight but still have many of these symptoms.   If so, what’s going on? Let’s look at one of the regulators of blood sugar, your adrenal glands.

Tired Adrenals

Your adrenals are a pair of small, triangular-shaped glands that sit on top of your kidneys. They have several important roles, including:  
  • Initiating the fight or flight response
  • Regulating sodium/potassium levels
  • Sex hormone production (androgens and estrogens)
After acute or prolonged periods of long days, little sleep, tons of work, and high stress, adrenals can get taxed and no longer function optimally. (Oh and let’s not forget our days of junk food and partying until the wee hours!) and adrenals play a big role in regulating blood sugar.    Excessively craving salt can be a sign of low adrenal function   Once you’ve used up the glucose from a meal, your central nervous system signals your adrenals to produce cortisol, the hormone that liberates glucose reserves and maintains a reliable, steady supply of glucose to all the cells in your body. This gives you constant ATP, or energy.   Along with classic signs of hypoglycemia, you may notice a cluster of symptoms associated with low adrenal function. These include:  
  • Low blood pressure
  • Craving salt
  • Frequent urination
  • Muscle cramps
  • Exhaustion after workouts
If your adrenals are not up to par, then you may be susceptible to low blood sugar.

What Causes Hypoglycemia?

  In simplest terms, low blood sugar is derived from an imbalance between insulin and glucose levels in the body. Outside of diabetes, hypoglycemia is rare but can happen as a byproduct of non-diabetes related illnesses or certain medications. However, hypoglycemia for people with diabetes usually occurs due to too much insulin. This can occur for a multitude of reasons:  
  • Exercise – While it has a host of benefits, exercise can be tricky to navigate for people with who take insulin since it utilizes the free glucose floating in your bloodstream up to 4-48 hours post-workout depending on the activity. Overcorrection of a high blood sugar can send you plummeting later.
  • Miscalculation of Carbs – Different types  of carbohydrates can all impact your body in fun and unique ways. Variety is the spice of life! Understanding how carbs affect your body is vital in preventing a correction factor snafu.
  • Illness or Vomiting – If you throw-up your carbs, the end result is too much insulin in the bloodstream. Beyond that, illness can mess with a whole host of biological processes, including a temporary shift in insulin sensitivity.
  • Hormones – Women in all phases of life can enjoy the added perk that hormone fluctuations can impact insulin sensitivity cyclically. What a bloody mess!
  • Alcohol Consumption – Booze impacts your liver’s natural glucose release. A little precaution before, during and after a night out is critical for people with diabetes. Typically people with diabetes see a drop in glucose 6-10 hours after starting drinking.
QUICK TIP: Being drunk can sometimes look a lot like low blood sugar. Weird, right!? So take extra precautions to educate yourself and your companions on hypo-protocols before a night out.   Don’t let the above list scare you! As much as it can sometimes feel like the hypo-monster is always looming. With a little preparation, and an ounce of prevention, you can be well-guarded from some of the more common causes of hypoglycemia.  

Can hypoglycemia be prevented?

Yes, hypoglycemia can be avoided with preventive steps—whether you have diabetes or not.   If you have hypoglycemia with diabetes, it’s all about sticking to your diabetes management plan. Double-check your insulin or medication dosage before taking it, and let your healthcare provider know if you change your eating or exercise habits. It might affect your glucose levels.   Or, consider a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). It transmits blood sugar to a receiver, and alerts you if it’s dropping too low. Then, be sure to always have glucose tablets or injectable glucagon on hand. If you pass out from low blood sugar and require immediate treatment, your friends or loved ones can administer a dose. If you have hypoglycemia without diabetes, diet and exercise adjustments should prevent many episodes of hypoglycemia if there is no underlying condition. Your healthcare provider may recommend eating frequent small meals, consuming a varied diet of fats, protein, and carbohydrates, or only exercising after eating.    Just remember, snacks and diet changes aren’t a long-term cure if it’s due to a health condition or medication. Work with your healthcare provider to find and resolve the true cause of your hypoglycemia.

What is Metabolism and How Can We Improve Our Metabolic Rate?

What is Metabolism and How Can We Improve Our Metabolic Rate?

Every cell in our body is constantly working to produce the substances and energy needed to sustain life, and metabolism is a process that’s essential for the continuity of these processes.

 

Despite the fundamental importance to our health and functioning, there’s quite a lot of ambiguity around the concept of metabolism – especially what it means when ours slows down and what we can do about that. 

At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center we often hear people say, “I have a slow metabolism” or “they just have a fast metabolism,” and we all nod our heads in agreement. But do we understand what that means?

What is your metabolism? Can it be fast or slow? Does having a slow metabolism make you more inclined to gain weight? Does your metabolism really “break” when you diet?

Your Metabolism Is More Than One Thing

We often refer to our metabolism as a singular thing, like it is this black box or small engine that stuff goes into and then comes out of. But the truth is, our metabolism is a collection of many things. In reality, our metabolism is the sum of all the metabolic processes in our body.

One of the most straightforward ways to understand your metabolism is to refer to it as your total energy expenditure. This means that your metabolism is the cumulation of all the energy your body expends to function. We will refer to this as our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). 

 

What Does Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) Mean?

This TDEE can be further broken down into three main categories: 

  1. resting metabolism (what most of us call our metabolism)

  2. the energy it takes to process the food you eat

  3. physical activity (more on that in a bit)

 

Resting Metabolism

Your resting metabolism is the sum of all the metabolic processes that are required for you to live. This means your cells use energy to do things like breathe, think, pump blood, etc. This represents about 60-70% of your TDEE.

 

The Thermic Effect Of Food (Tef)

The next piece is what we call the thermic effect of food (TEF). This is simply the energy it requires to extract the energy you get from your food. This is a relatively small amount of energy and represents about 10% of your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). 

 

Physical Activity

The last piece that makes up your TDEE is your physical activity, meaning the amount of movement you do throughout the day. This is often broken down into two separate categories: physical activity that is from structured exercise (we call this exercise activity thermogenesis) and physical activity from non-structured exercise (we call this non-exercise activity thermogenesis).

 

How does Metabolism Work?

When we eat food, our digestive system starts functioning. The digestive system uses different kinds of enzymes to do the following processes:

  • The initial process is the breaking down of proteins into amino acids. 

  • Enzymes also convert fats into fatty acids. 

  • Carbohydrates have been converted into sugars (Glucose) with the help of enzymes.

When the enzymes convert proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into amino acids, fatty acids, and sugars, the body can use them anytime as an energy source, and these compounds are absorbed by blood which helps in carrying them to different cells for their functioning. 

 

After the blood carries them to the cells, and they enter into the cells, other enzymes start their functioning and act upon it, and a lot of chemical reactions also take place that involve “metabolizing” different compounds. The energy made by these compounds can do different purposes, including being used by the body for performing different tasks, and it can also remain stored inside the body into tissues, such as muscles, liver, and body fat.

Enzymes

A protein acting as a catalyst that facilitates reactions in biological systems is called an enzyme. Each reaction step in Metabolic pathways is catalyzed by an enzyme and it takes control of the biochemical reactions.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP)

It is an organic compound that provides energy for facilitating many processes in living cells, for example, muscle contraction, chemical synthesis and nerve impulse propagation. It is found in all forms of life, and is often referred to as the “molecular unit of currency”. When consumed in metabolic processes, it is either converted to adenosine diphosphate (ADP) or to adenosine monophosphate (AMP).

Your metabolism adapts to calorie increases and decreases, with a large part of the adaptation coming from changes in physical activity. While metabolisms can decrease, they do not “break.” Lastly, lower resting metabolisms do not appear to be predictive of weight gain and by themselves are not overly helpful measures for most people.

In short: the answer to controlling our metabolic rate lies in following a healthy lifestyle, where we stay physically active, maintain a balanced diet (with plenty of protein) and find ways to de-stress and manage cortisol levels.

Ways to Support Your Thyroid & Mental Health

Ways to Support Your Thyroid & Mental Health

Thyroid health is something that isn’t as widely discussed as it should be. Many of us are simply unaware of the impact poor thyroid health can have on our overall well-being. 

Perhaps the least understood aspect of thyroid health relates to the role this gland and its function in hormone release plays in supporting mental health. All too often, people consider the impact on physical wellbeing and little attention is given to mental health.

Let’s take a closer look at this relationship, as well as establishing some of the best ways to support your thyroid health.

The psychological symptoms of thyroid problems

Some of the most common thyroid disorders include hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), thyroid cancer and thyroid-related eye conditions. What many people don’t know is that people with thyroid disorders often have mental and emotional health symptoms as well as physical symptoms.

According to studies, some of the most prominent symptoms of an overactive thyroid are nervousness, anxiety, irritability and mood swings. It can also cause difficulty sleeping, as well as increased tiredness, weakness and sensitivity. Similarly, an underactive thyroid can also result in tiredness, as well as feelings of depression and low mood.

Whatever kind of thyroid disorder you develop, it will likely make you feel more emotional, and result in rapid and unpredictable changes in mood. Thyroid under activity has also been known to cause significant cognitive concerns such as difficulties with concentration, short-term memory lapses, a lack of interest and a reduction in mental alertness.

What causes these issues?

So how does a problem with your thyroid result in mental and emotional concerns? The answer lies in the abnormal thyroid hormone levels caused by thyroid disorders. Rapid changes in hormone levels can unsettle the emotions, and an unstable thyroid leads to unstable hormone release.

Sometimes the psychological impact of a thyroid disorder can be the result of secondary stimuli. The stress of battling illness can lead to increased levels of anxiety and depression, creating a vicious cycle. Likewise, thyroid disorders can result in physical changes like weight loss or gain, and hair loss, all of which can have an impact on confidence and mood.

Are Thyroid and Depression More Common in Women Than Men?

Yes, women are more prone to develop thyroid conditions than men. Women are also more likely to suffer from depression than men. Owing to biology, women are more susceptible to hormone-induced depression.

Several major hormonal changes that take place in a woman’s life can cause depression and low mood:

  1. Premenstrual syndrome
  2. Pregnancy
  3. Postpartum depression – depression after the delivery of the baby
  4. Menopause – depression around cessation of menses

A number of different medical practitioners and researchers have written books about how thyroid problems can negatively affect brain and contribute to mental illness:

  • “Brain cells have more thyroid hormone receptors than any other tissue, which means that a proper uptake of thyroid hormone is essential for the brain cells to work properly.” – Dr. Barry Durrant-Peatfield, MD, Author of Your Thyroid and How to Keep It Healthy.
  • “How much of what we call “mental illness” is actually thyroid-driven? In my experience, a vast majority.” – Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD, Author of A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives.
  • “T3 [thyroid hormone] is actually a bona fide neurotransmitter. If you don’t have enough T3, or if its action is blocked, an entire cascade of neurotransmitter abnormalities may ensue, which can lead to mood and energy changes, including depression and anxiety.”– Dr. Christiane Northrup, MD, Author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing.
  • “Scientists now consider thyroid hormone one of the major players in brain chemistry disorders. And as with any brain chemical disorder, until treated correctly, thyroid hormone imbalance has serious effects on the patient’s emotions and behavior.” – Dr. Ridha Arem, MD, Author of The Thyroid Solution: A Mind Body Program for Beating Depression and Regaining Your Emotional and Physical Health.

So if you struggle with brain or mental illness, you likely do not need a prescription for antidepressants, antipsychotics and antianxiety medication. What you really need is to support your thyroid. At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center we treat the underlying thyroid problem, it is critical to alleviating the associated psychiatric symptoms.

It is quite confusing at times to determine whether a person has depression or a thyroid imbalance because both have similar symptoms. Also, just having tested normal for TSH does not imply you do not have a thyroid imbalance. You need to check on your T3 and T4 levels as well, to determine whether you have a thyroid problem or not.

 

Consult your general practitioner as well as a mental health professional for your thyroid and depression issues, so that they can be treated properly and simultaneously.

Diabetes And Women’s Health

Diabetes And Women’s Health

Diabetes poses multiple challenges to women’s health.

The prevalence of diabetes in women of reproductive age is increasing and, with it, the proportion of pregnancies complicated by preexisting diabetes. The baby’s organs are formed during the initial 7 to 8 weeks after the last period. Uncontrolled diabetes in early weeks of pregnancy significantly increases the chances of birth defects and miscarriages. Because these early weeks are so important, it is essential to have good blood glucose control for three to six months prior to conceiving.

Men and women with diabetes tend to have very different outcomes

According to a 2007 study in Annals of Internal Medicine, the death rate for men with diabetes fell between 1971 and 2000, reflecting the many advances in diabetes treatment. However, the death rate for women with diabetes showed no signs of improvement during the same time frame. Additionally, the difference in death rates between women who had diabetes and those who didn’t more than doubled.

This study of diabetes in men and women offered several possible reasons for the gender differences, including:

  • Women often receive less aggressive treatment for cardiovascular risk factors and conditions related to diabetes.
  • The complications of diabetes in women are more difficult to diagnose.
  • Women often have different kinds of heart disease than men.
  • Hormones and inflammation act differently in women.

Women suffering from diabetes are at a higher risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Birth anomalies (if blood glucose is deranged during pregnancy)
  • Recurrent urinary tract infection
  • Vaginal infection
  • Kidney problems
  • Depression

Roughly 10% of pregnant women have high blood glucose levels which are detected around 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. This condition called gestational diabetes mellitus or GDM occurs due to hormonal alteration during pregnancy makes the mother resistant to insulin. GDM usually goes away after delivery but women with a history of GDM are prone to develop diabetes in future. GDM, has not been properly treated, can result in a large baby (weighing more than 4 kg). Increase in size of the baby can result in injury to the mother or baby during delivery and increase the chance of cesarean section. Recent research shows that large babies born to mothers with GDM have a higher chance of obesity and type 2 diabetes in later life.

In the general population, women live longer than men, largely because of their lower rates of heart disease. Yet, when women get diabetes, they cease to have this advantage. Women under age 50 with diabetes are more vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes as the disease seems to cancel protective effects of estrogen on a woman’s heart before menopause. It is observed that approximately two-thirds of women with diabetes ultimately die from heart disease and stroke.

Many women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) also have diabetes. The unifying link between the two diseases is possibly insulin resistance or inability of insulin to act properly in the body. Urinary tract infections and vaginal yeast infections are more common in women with diabetes. The fungi and bacteria that cause these infections thrive in a high-sugar environment, and the body’s immune system can’t fight them in the setting of uncontrolled diabetes. Women suffering from diabetes also have a higher risk of kidney and eye problems, depression and menstrual irregularities. Few medications are used for treatment of diabetes but can cause osteoporosis or weakening of bones and should be avoided in women who are at increased risk of fracture. All these complications of diabetes can be prevented by timely diagnosis, dietary and lifestyle changes and use of appropriate medications when necessary.

Symptoms of diabetes in women

Women with diabetes experience many of the same symptoms as men. However, some symptoms are unique to women. Understanding both will help you identify diabetes so you can seek treatment early when the disease is easier to manage.

Symptoms unique to women include:
  • vaginal and oral yeast infections
  • vaginal thrush
  • urinary infections
  • female sexual dysfunction
  • polycystic ovary syndrome
Symptoms experienced by women and men:
  • increased thirst and hunger
  • frequent urination
  • weight loss or gain that has no obvious cause
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • wounds that heal slowly
  • nausea
  • skin infections
  • patches of darker skin in areas of the body that have creases
  • irritability
  • breath that has a sweet or fruity odor
  • reduced feeling in hands or feet

NOTE: At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center we want you to know It’s important to keep in mind that many people with type 2 diabetes have no noticeable symptoms.

Tips to stay healthy with diabetes

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a low-fat diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t Smoke
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Take care of diabetes
  • Regulate your blood lipid levels
  • Screen for complications periodically

Tips For Healthy Eating With Diabetes

Tips For Healthy Eating With Diabetes

If you, or someone in your family, has type 1, type 2 or another type of diabetes, you’ll know it can sometimes be difficult to know what to eat.   There are different types of diabetes, and no two people with diabetes are the same. So there isn’t a one-size-fits-all ‘diabetes diet’ for everyone with diabetes. But we’ve come up with tips you can use to help you make healthier food choices.    These healthy eating tips are general and can help you manage your blood glucose (sugar), blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They can also help you manage your weight and reduce the risk of diabetes complications, such as heart problems and strokes, and other health conditions including certain types of cancers.   At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center our tips are based on research involving people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If you have a different type of diabetes, like gestational, cystic fibrosis-related diabetes or MODY, some of these tips are relevant to you. It’s important, whatever kind of diabetes you have, to see your dietitian for specific advice.   OUR TIPS

1. Choose healthier carbohydrates

  All carbs affect blood glucose levels so it’s important to know which foods contain carbohydrates. Choose the healthier foods that contain carbs and be aware of your portion sizes.   Here are some healthy sources of carbohydrate:
  • Whole grains like brown rice, buckwheat and whole oats
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Pulses such as chickpeas, beans and lentils
  • Dairy like unsweetened yogurt and milk.
At the same time, it’s also important to cut down on foods low in fiber such as white bread, white rice and highly-processed cereals. You can check food labels when you’re looking for foods high in fiber if you’re not sure.

2. Eat less salt

  Eating lots of salt can increase your risk of high blood pressure, which in turn increases risk of heart diseases and stroke. And when you have diabetes, you’re  more at risk of all of these conditions.   Try to limit yourself to a maximum of 6g (one teaspoonful) of salt a day. Lots of pre-packaged foods already contain salt so remember to check food labels and choose those with less salt. Cooking from scratch will help you keep an eye on how much salt you’re eating. You can also get creative and swap out salt for different types of herbs and spices to add extra flavor.

3. Eat less red and processed meat

If you’re cutting down on carbs, you might start to have bigger portions of meat to fill you up. But it’s not a good idea to do this with red and processed meat, like ham, bacon, sausages, beef and lamb. These all have links with heart problems and cancers.   Try swapping red and processed meat for these:  
  • Pulses such as beans and lentils
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Poultry like chicken and turkey
  • Unsalted nuts
Beans, peas and lentils are also very high in fiber and don’t affect your blood glucose levels too much – making them a great swap for processed and red meat and keeping you feeling full. Most of us know fish is good for us, but oily fish like salmon and mackerel are even better. These are rich in something called omega-3 oil, which helps protect your heart. Try and aim to eat two portions of oily fish a week.

4. Eat more fruit and vegetables

  We know eating fruit and vegetables is good for you. It’s always a good thing to eat more at meal times and have them as snacks if you’re hungry. This can help you get the vitamins, minerals and fiber your body needs every day to help keep you healthy.   You might be wondering about fruit and if you should avoid it because it’s sugary? The answer is no. Whole fruit is good for everyone and if you have diabetes, it’s no different. Fruits do contain sugar, but it’s natural sugar. This is different to the added sugar (also known as free sugars) that are in things like chocolate, biscuits and cakes. Products like fruit juices also count as added sugar, so go for whole fruit instead. This can be fresh, frozen, dried or tinned (in juice, not in syrup). And it’s best to eat it throughout the day instead of one bigger portion in one go.   An important part of managing your condition is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. There’s no such thing as a ‘diabetic’ diet or ‘diabetic’ recipes.

What Pregnant Women Should Know About Gestational Diabetes

What Pregnant Women Should Know About Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy. Some women are able to manage it by eating a healthy, balanced diet, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight. Others may need to take medication.

Most people know that diabetes is a chronic condition that messes with your blood sugar, but it may surprise you to learn that pregnant women are susceptible to a temporary, but serious, form of the disease called gestational diabetes.

At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center our team of board-certified physicians understands the potential complications of gestational diabetes and has vast experience helping mothers to control their symptoms and deliver healthy babies. 

If you’re expecting, it’s important to be fully informed about all of the potential problems that can arise during pregnancy so you can spot the symptoms and seek help immediately. Here, we take a closer look at gestational diabetes to give you a better overall understanding of this serious condition.

What causes gestational diabetes?

Lots of changes happen to your body during pregnancy.

Along with the physical signs, the hormones you produce can make it hard for your body to use insulin properly. This puts you at an increased risk of insulin resistance, and some women can’t produce enough insulin to overcome it.

This makes it difficult to use glucose (sugar) properly for energy, so it stays in your blood and the sugar levels rise. This then leads to gestational diabetes.

Who’s at risk of gestational diabetes?

At your first antenatal appointment – also known as your booking appointment – a healthcare professional should check if you’re at risk of gestational diabetes. 

They should offer you a test for gestational diabetes if you have any of these risk factors:

  • Overweight or obese
  • Have had it before
  • Have had a very large baby in a previous pregnancy – 4.5kg/10lb or more
  • Have a family history of diabetes – parent or sibling
  • Have a South Asian, Black or African Caribbean or Middle Eastern background.

Can you prevent gestational diabetes? 

Gestational diabetes is common. It affects at least 4–5 in 100 women during pregnancy. Some women have a higher risk of developing it. 

You can’t prevent it but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. This includes managing your weight, eating healthily and keeping active before pregnancy. 

Gestational diabetes symptoms

Signs and symptoms associated with gestational diabetes include:

  • Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night.
  • Being really thirsty.
  • Feeling more tired than usual.
  • Losing weight without trying to.
  • Genital itching or thrush.
  • Blurred eyesight.

You may have been shocked to find out that you have gestational diabetes – many women have no noticeable symptoms.  

As some gestational diabetes symptoms are like symptoms experienced in pregnancy anyway – like feeling more tired or going to the toilet more – most cases are diagnosed during screening for gestational diabetes. This is called an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test, also known as an OGTT.

The OGTT is done when you’re between 24-28 weeks pregnant. If you’ve had gestational diabetes before, you’ll be offered the OGTT or self monitoring of your blood sugar levels at home early in your pregnancy. You’ll be shown how to do this and given a blood monitoring kit. 

Uncontrolled gestational diabetes is dangerous for you and your baby

With regular monitoring and a healthy diet and exercise routine, most women can keep their gestational diabetes under control. However, if you ignore this condition, you put yourself at risk of:

  • Preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Needing to deliver your baby via C-section
  • Developing Type 2 diabetes later in life

In fact, about 50% of women who get gestational diabetes end up dealing with Type 2 diabetes down the road. 

Your baby also faces potential complications if you have gestational diabetes, including:

  • Premature birth
  • High birth weight
  • Low blood sugar
  • Breathing problems
  • Higher chances of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life

In severe cases, gestational diabetes can lead to a stillbirth.

Gestational diabetes is manageable

You can do your best to prevent gestational diabetes by staying active during your pregnancy, eating a nutritious diet, and maintaining a healthy weight. However, you can still develop gestational diabetes despite these efforts. If you do, we may prescribe insulin therapy. 

The good news is that gestational diabetes typically disappears after you deliver your baby, but we still need to test you for a while afterward to make sure. Plus, you’ll need to pay close attention to your diet and weight in the years following your pregnancy to avoid developing Type 2 diabetes. 

To find out more about gestational diabetes, or to get tested, call us or book online at your convenience. Our team can help you and your unborn baby thrive despite gestational diabetes.

Signs That You Need to Have Your Thyroid Checked

Signs That You Need to Have Your Thyroid Checked

  When your thyroid stops working as it should, you can experience a variety of symptoms that might seem unrelated or even odd. From chills and brain fog to thinning hair and weight gain, if your thyroid isn’t functioning well, you may be experiencing symptoms that are subtle and hard to characterize. At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center Women are more likely to experience issues with their thyroid, but anyone can suffer thyroid problems. Recognizing the symptoms of an overactive or underactive thyroid is the best way to get the treatment you need.

Possible Signs or Symptoms of a Thyroid Condition

If you’ve experienced any of the following signs or symptoms of a thyroid problem, it might be time to get your thyroid checked.

Your weight has changed significantly, even though your habits remain the same

Significant and unexplained changes in your weight could be the result of either hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid). In hyperthyroidism your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine which causes your body’s metabolism to hasten, leading to weight loss. In contrast, in hypothyroidism, your body is unable to produce enough thyroxine which causes the metabolism to slow down, thus aiding in your weight gain.

You’ve noticed a change in your appearance

In addition to fluctuations in your weight, look for changes in your appearance including weaker or more brittle hair, dry, red, itchy, thinning or irritated skin, swelling in your joints, a puffy face, or swelling at the base of your neck. It may be easy to dismiss these issues as normal skin problems, but if you’ve noticed changes in your skin’s appearance along with one or more of the other factors mentioned here, it may be time to have your thyroid checked.

You feel depressed 

Your physical appearance isn’t the only thing affected by your hormones; they also play a big role in your overall mood and mental wellness. Hyperthyroidism may cause you to feel anxious, nervous, and irritable whereas hypothyroidism can cause depression.

You’re always tired

Hyperthyroidism can make it difficult for you to fall asleep at night, thus leading to fatigue, whereas hypothyroidism’s lack of thyroxine can deplete your body from all of its energy. Additionally, with both of these conditions you’ll likely experience muscle weakness which causes your body to feel tired and worn down.

Menstrual cycle changes

Both an overactive and underactive thyroid can cause changes in your menstrual cycle. For example, if your periods become closer together, heavier, or longer, you may be dealing with an underactive thyroid that isn’t producing enough hormones. When your thyroid is producing too many hormones your period might get lighter and cycles more spaced apart.

Infertility and miscarriage

Low thyroid function can affect ovulation, causing infertility or even a miscarriage. An overactive thyroid can also cause problems for pregnant women, leading to miscarriage or other serious health problems for your baby.

Heart rate symptoms

Overactive thyroids can cause heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and an increased heart rate. 

What Happens if You Don’t Have any Signs or Symptoms of a Thyroid Problem

Just because you’re not showing any signs or symptoms of a thyroid disorder, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Thyroid nodules, defined as being “very common masses within the thyroid gland” are not always as easy to identify as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Physicians say that “Sometimes, patients notice or feel a bump on their neck, or sometimes their doctor detects a lump during a physical exam.” The lack of other symptoms can make it more challenging to detect. Thyroid nodules are often found incidentally during neck imaging for other conditions and are picked up in CT scans or MRIs. Catching a thyroid nodule early on can help decrease your chances of developing an overactive thyroid. Additionally, it can also help you to detect and treat more serious conditions early on including thyroid cancer. If you think you might be experiencing symptoms related to thyroid disorders or notice a change in appearance to your thyroid, consult with your primary care provider.

When to call a doctor

In most cases, problems with your thyroid aren’t an emergency. If you feel you have some of the symptoms above, you can simply make an appointment with your doctor to discuss testing and treatment options. However, you should call your doctor immediately if:
  • You’re very drowsy, cold, and lethargic. This could be the start of a myxedema coma, which is caused by hypothyroidism that eventually leads to unconsciousness and in some cases death.
  • You have a rapid pulse, accompanied by a fever, agitation, or delirium.  This can indicate thyrotoxic crisis, a complication of hyperthyroidism.
It’s not always easy to know if you have a problem with your thyroid. Knowing some of the common symptoms of an underactive or overactive thyroid will help give you an idea of why you need to talk to your doctor. Talk with your primary care provider about testing and treatment of thyroid issues. They may refer you to an endocrinologist or thyroid specialist for follow-up care.

The Purpose Of A Spirometry Test

The Purpose Of A Spirometry Test

    A spirometry test examines the function of your lungs by measuring both how much air you can inhale and how much you can exhale.

Why is spirometry done?

At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center a spirometry test determines if lungs are functioning at expected levels. It helps our specialist to diagnose lung and airway diseases. For example, the test can detect chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) before symptoms develop. The test can also check for pulmonary fibrosis, or scarring of the lung tissue. Other reasons why spirometry is done:
  • To determine lung capacity
  • To measure the changes over time of chronic diseases on lung function
  • To identify early changes in lung function and in some cases to help guide treatment
  • To detect narrowing in the airways
  • To decide how likely it is that inhaled medicines may help with symptoms
  • To show whether exposure to substances has altered lung function
  • To estimate your risk of respiratory complications before undergoing surgery

What should I expect during spirometry?

Spirometry can be done in the doctor’s office or a special lung function laboratory. You can expect to go through the following during spirometry:
  • Soft clips will be placed on your nose. This helps you breathe out only through the tube attached to the spirometer.
  • You will be asked to take a deep breath in.
  • Then, you will blow into a tube connected to the spirometer. You will be asked to blow as hard and fast as you can.
  • You may also be asked to breathe in a medicine that helps to open your airways followed by blowing out into the tube again.
  • The doctor will see the test results before and after you inhaled the medicine and determine whether you may benefit from treatment with it.
You feel no pain during the test. The test is repeated three times to make sure the results are reproducible and accurate. It usually takes up to 30 minutes to complete the test. You might feel lightheaded or tired due to the effort of breathing in and out so deeply. You may also cough as a result of blowing into the tube. Those symptoms should quickly resolve after completing the test.

Conditions That Spirometry Can Diagnose

Your doctor will look at your test results to figure out what may be making it hard to breathe. Common causes include:
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Scars in your lungs (pulmonary fibrosis)

Spirometry Terms You Should Know

Here are some terms you will probably hear from your healthcare provider if you are doing spirometry.

FVC (forced vital capacity)

This is essentially your lung capacity – the amount of air your lungs can hold. 

FEV1 (forced expiratory volume)

This is the amount of air you can release in a single second. Generally speaking, the higher the amount of air you can release, the healthier your lungs are. Low FEV ratings could indicate an inflamed airway.

FEV1%

Your FEV1% refers to your lung capacity as compared to other individuals of the same height, weight, age, and sex. A score of 70-80% is considered average.

What do the test results mean?

Spirometry can help doctors determine:
  • If the patient’s symptoms are caused by asthma or another process
  • If there is a blockage or narrowing in the airways
  • If treatment is working
  • If a disease is stable or getting worse
  • Level of severity of the disease
  • If lungs are lower in volume than normal which may warrant additional testing

What follow-up is necessary?

The doctor will review the test results with you. At that time, the doctor will set treatment goals and a long-term plan based on the results of the spirometer.

Benefits of Taking a Spirometry Test

Now that you know what a spirometry test is, why should you take one? Spirometry provides numerous benefits for those with chronic lung conditions. Here are just some of the benefits of taking regular spirometry tests.

Notice changes in your lung health.

Since there is currently no cure for chronic lung diseases, it is extremely important that you proactively look for changes in your lung health. Whether positive or negative, consistently measuring your lung capacity allows you to see changes as they occur. If you wait until your next doctor’s visit to see whether your lung capacity has increased, decreased, or remained stationary, you might miss something important. Stay on top of your lung health by taking spirometry tests every day to every other day. It only takes a moment, and it can make a huge difference.

Develop an action plan with the help of your doctor.

Spirometry provides the perfect avenue for you and your physician to get on the same page. Remote monitoring of your spirometry data by the doctor provides insight into your overall condition. You and your doctor can use your scores to develop a “lung health action plan,” which details the best course of action for maintaining your health.