Thursday, July 17, 2014

Join the Library for a Chat About Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 29 million Americans have diabetes. What’s even more startling is that, of those, more than 8 million don’t know they have it.

To help raise awareness about the disease, the St. Louis Public Library and its partners will present “Diabetes: What’s New, What Works, and How Can I Prevent It?” The program will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 22 in the Carnegie Room at Central Library, 1301 Olive Street. It will feature Certified Diabetes Educator Jennifer Markee and pharmacist Amy Drew, who will discuss this increasingly prevalent disease and the ways in which it can be treated and managed.

A consultant for the St. Louis Diabetes Coalition and the OASIS Institute, Markee is a medical social worker and a certified diabetes educator through the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Drew is an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy and a practicing pharmacist at the Ambulatory Clinic at Mercy Clinic Family Medicine.

“In the last 10 to 15 years, there has been such an increase in the diagnosis of diabetes. It’s becoming more pervasive,” Markee said. “One out of five Americans has diabetes so this is important for people to look at and not sweep under the rug.”

Markee said that a diabetes diagnosis often comes with a dose of guilt, as people often automatically assume that they did something wrong to deserve the diagnosis. However, diabetes is part lifestyle and part hereditary. “It becomes this elephant in the room, and people think it’s not valid enough to talk about in conversation,” she said.

At the July 22 event, Markee said she hopes to remove some of that stigma, and to help people learn about the symptoms and warning signs of diabetes, as well as how it is diagnosed, and help them get started on developing a support system to learn more about this chronic disease. She and Drew will also discuss some of the ways that diabetes can be controlled, including exercise habits and reading nutrition labels.

“Diabetes: What’s New, What Works, and How Can I Prevent It?” is the third presentation in “Can I Catch That?,” the St. Louis Public Library’s 2014 Consumer Health Information Speaker Series. The fourth presentation, “See No Evil, Speak No Evil: The Story Your Eyes and Mouth Tell About Your Health,” will take place on Tuesday, October 28 at Central Library. For more information on this series and other health events at the Library, call 314.539.0390.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Are You At Risk for Diabetes?

All month on the blog, we're talking about diabetes. And we know that some of you are thinking, "Well, I don't have diabetes. Why should I care about this?" Well, considering how many people across the country do have Type 2 diabetes, chances are you know someone who does have diabetes, whether it's a friend, co-worker, or family member.

And then there's the fact of prediabetes, a condition in which someone's blood sugar levels are elevated, though not enough to JUSTIFY a diagnosis of diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 79 million Americans, and half of those over the age of 65, have prediabetes. The truly scary part though is that just 7% of those with diabetes know that they have it, and many of those with prediabetes show no symptoms. If only for that reason, it's worth taking a look at prediabetes and the risk factors associated with diabetes.

For good, easy-to-print information on prediabetes, check out this handout from the American Diabetes Association. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse also has some great information on prediabetes, including a list of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to be tested for prediabetes. Among those factors are being over the age of 45 and being overweight in combination with any of the following:
  • being physically inactive
  • having a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • having high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • having a history of gestational diabetes
  • being African American, Latino, Pacific Islander, Native American, or Asian American (these populations typically have higher concentrations of those with diabetes)
There are also several interactive tools online that can help you determine your risk for diabetes. While these should not be considered definitive, they can help you figure out what to talk to your doctor about in regard to diabetes. Here are a couple tools to try:
  • The Siteman Cancer Center and Washington University School of Medicine's Your Disease Risk covers diabetes, as well as several other diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
  • The American Diabetes Association has a page devoted to tools to help determine Type 2 diabetes risk, including a short questionnaire.
If you think you might be at risk of diabetes, check out the American Diabetes Association's website, which has a whole section devoted to ways in which you can lower your risk through exercise, eating right, and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Stay tuned this month for more information about diabetes!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Type 1? Type 2? An Introduction to Diabetes

This month, The Good Health Blog Spot is focusing on diabetes. To kick that off, let's start at the beginning: So what exactly is diabetes?

The National Library of Medicine defines diabetes as "a lifelong (chronic) disease in which there is a high level of sugar in the blood." The definition goes on to explain that diabetes is related to insulin, a hormone created in the pancreas to control blood sugar by breaking down glucose in food; diabetes can be caused by too little insulin, a resistance to insulin, or a combination of both. "People with diabetes have high blood sugar because their body cannot move sugar into fat, liver, and muscle cells to be stored for energy."

There are three main types of diabetes:
  • Type 1
  • Type 2
  • Gestational
Type 1 diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, and is generally diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. Those with Type 1 diabetes have immune systems that attack and destroy cells in the pancreas, blocking the creation of insulin. For this reason, those with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day in order to survive. According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, scientists don't yet know what causes Type 1 diabetes, though it may have something to do with autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors.

The JDRF is an excellent source of information on Type 1 diabetes, especially this list of symptoms and warning signs and this page devoted to common myths and misconceptions about Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, occurring when your body does not produce enough insulin to convert glucose into energy. While this type of diabetes occasionally occurs in younger people, it is most often diagnosed in middle-aged and older adults; it is also the type most commonly associated with obesity and inactivity.

There are several excellent online resources for those who have, or are at risk for, Type 2 diabetes, including the American Diabetes Association (which has a large section of its website dedicated to Type 2 diabetes) and the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC), a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Gestational diabetes is the third, and least common, form of the condition. This form of diabetes occurs only in women who have elevated levels of blood glucose while pregnant, even though they did not have diabetes or high glucose levels before becoming pregnant. The NDIC is a good introductory resource for information on gestational diabetes.

For more information on diabetes, join the St. Louis Public Library and our partners for "Diabetes: What's New, What Works, and How Can I Prevent It?" at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 22 in Central Library's Carnegie Room. And keep checking the blog during July!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Let's Talk About Diabetes at the Library

As we head into July, the St. Louis Public Library is turning its focus to diabetes. Diagnoses of the chronic condition is on the rise nationwide, with more than more than 29 million cases across the country, according to the American Diabetes Association. Having diabetes can have an impact on all aspects of your health, including increasing your risk for other serious health problems.

To help raise awareness and educate about diabetes, the Library has partnered with OASIS to provide free 6-week classes to help those with diabetes manage their disease. Led by certified diabetes educators, these classes will take place at several branches throughout the city, starting July 10 at the Schlafly Branch. Registration is required; to secure a spot, call 1-855-805-6168. For a full list of times, dates, and locations, check out our page of Upcoming Events.

On July 22, the third event in our Consumer Health Information Speaker Series will also focus on diabetes. Can I Catch That? Diabetes: What's New, What Works, and How Can I Prevent It? will feature Certified Diabetes Educator Jennifer Markee and pharmacist Amy Drew discussing the best ways to prevent and treat diabetes. The event will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 22 in the Carnegie Room at Central Library.

Check back to the blog throughout July as we offer more insight into diabetes!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Stay Cool This Summer!

Summer is officially upon us, and with it come temperatures in the 90s and a heat index higher than that. As St. Louis turns itself into a big brick oven, we all need to stop and figure out ways to beat the heat, and that means staying indoors as much as possible (especially if you're very young, very old, or have a heart condition) and drinking lots of water.

For some good general information on heat-related illnesses, check out these pages from the Centers for Disease Control, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and the American Red Cross. The Missouri DHSS also has a handy printable guide to help you manage extreme heat conditions, while the CDC has some tips on helping handle the heat if you work outside.

Also, it's incredibly important to remember the effect of hot cars on kids and pets. Temperatures can skyrocket inside a closed vehicle (and cracking the windows doesn't do much), so don't leave them in the car. has some some good information on the effects of hot cars on kids, as well as some tips on what to do if you see a child trapped in a locked vehicle.

But what happens if the preventative measures don't work? The CDC has a page devoted to warning signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, the latter of which is a potentially fatal (and largely preventable) condition. The heat can also cause heat rash, which isn't as serious a condition, is still uncomfortable and can lead to infection if it goes untreated.

Finally, if nothing else, get into a cool environment! The St. Louis metro area has cooling sites available to the public, including all branches of the St. Louis Public Library. Click here for a printable list of all cooling sites in the metro area, or go to this site for a map searchable by ZIP code.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Take a Moment to Think About Alzheimer's

Every day, we hear about Alzheimer's Disease, yet for many of us, we only have a vague notion of what it is. According to the National Library of Medicine, Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of dementia, a brain disorder that first affects thought, language, and memory. "In AD, over time, symptoms get worse. People may not recognize family members or have trouble speaking, reading or writing. They may forget how to brush their teeth or comb their hair. Later on, they may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home. Eventually, they need total care." While Alzheimer's generally affects older adults, early-onset Alzheimer's can affect people much younger.

So why is it something we should care about? Frankly, because it affects a lot of people. According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's Disease, and more than 500,000 people a year die of the disease, making it the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Furthermore, one out of every three senior citizens dies with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. Check out the video below for a quick rundown on the state of Alzheimer's today.

The St. Louis Public Library has lots of resources for those dealing with Alzheimer's and their caregivers, and for those who hope to stave off the disease through maintaining social and mental stimulation. Check out the list below for some examples.
  • The Handbook of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias
  • Encyclopedia of Alzheimer's Disease by Elaine A. Moore with Lisa Moore
  • The Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with Alzheimer's and Other Dementias by Naomi Feil and Vicki de Klerk-Rubin
  • The Alzheimer's Answer: Reduce Your Risk and Keep Your Brain Healthy by Marwan Sabbagh
  • Alzheimer's in America: The Shriver Report on Women and Alzheimer's
  • The Alzheimer's Action Plan by P. Murali Doriaswamy and Lisa P. Gwyther with Tina Adler
  • 100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's and Age-Related Memory Loss by Jean Carper
  • Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope While Coping with Stress and Grief by Pauline Boss
  • Memory Books and Other Graphic Cuing Systems: Practical Communication and Memory Aids for Adults with Dementia by Michelle S. Bourgeois

You can also check out these online resources.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cardio Time at Central Library!

Don't forget that tonight is the second event in the Library's 2014 Consumer Health Information Speaker Series, "Can I Catch That?" Tonight's program focuses on cardio health, and features cardiologist Angela Brown and clinical pharmacist Anastasia Armbruster. The program starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Auditorium at Central Library, 1301 Olive St., 63103. See the posts below for more information on the event.

Additionally, the event will feature herbalist and massage therapist Rachel Davis, and Lisa Hays of the Million Hearts Campaign talking about various ways in which you can take care of your heart at home. On your way in, please stop by their tables outside the auditorium.

See you at Central tonight!