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Fighting Cancer with Nutrition

Fighting Cancer with Nutrition

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Cancer is a complex disease that results from multiple interactions between genes and the environment. It is regarded as one of the current leading causes of mortality worldwide. Cancer is abnormal division and reproduction of cells that can spread throughout the body. It consists of almost 100 disorders caused by nearly 300 different growths.

Because cancer occurs in cells that are replicating, the patterns of cancer are quite different in children and adults. In early life the brain, nervous system, bones, muscles and connective tissue are still growing. Thus these tissues are more commonly involved with cancerous lesions in children than adults. Conversely, common adult tumors involve epithelial linings. Leukemias and lymphomas, which are cancers of the immune system, occur in both children and adults.

 The goals of medical nutrition therapy for patients with cancer are  giving the best possible quality of life, controlling cancer related symptoms, maintaining  healthy body weight and body strength, keeping body tissue healthy and decreasing side effects before, during and after the treatments.

Cancer and cancer treatments may affect taste, smell, appetite and the ability to eat enough food and absorb nutrients from food. This can cause malnutrition, which is a condition caused by a lack of key nutrients. Malnutrition can cause the patient to be weak, tired, unable to fight infection and complete cancer treatments. Malnutrition may be made worse if the cancer grows or spreads. Medical Nutrition Therapy is important for healing, fighting infection and having enough energy to prevent malnutrition.

cancer patient sitting on a hospital chair

Malnutrition associated with cancer patients

The origin of malnutrition in cancer patients is multi-factorial. The prevalence of malnutrition in cancer patients is higher than in general patients because of cancer-specific characteristics and treatment processes. Most cancer patients undergo surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplant depending on the type and stage of cancer. These treatments are associated with various side effects. Among these side effects, loss of appetite, sore mouth or throat, dry mouth, change in taste, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, constipation and fatigue can negatively affect dietary intake. 

Malnutrition can cause weakness, tiredness, infection risks, side effects of cancer treatment and mortality rates. Malnutrition may be worse if the cancer grows or spreads. Wasting is accelerated by the proteolysis of skeletal muscle and consumption of body fat. Accelerated mobilization and consumption of host protein stores from peripheral tissues occurs to support gluconeogenesis and acute phase protein synthesis. Consumption of the right amount of protein and calories is important for healing, fighting infection and having enough energy.

Anorexia and cachexia are common causes of malnutrition in cancer patients. 

Anorexia is the loss of appetite. It is a common symptom in patients with cancer. Anorexia may occur early in the disease or later, if the cancer grows or spreads. Anorexia may be attributed to altered taste and smell or to changes in the hypothalamic food regulation. Some patients already have anorexia when they are diagnosed with cancer. Most patients who have advanced cancer will have anorexia. Anorexia is the most common cause of malnutrition in cancer patients.

Cachexia is a condition marked by weakness, weight loss, fat loss and muscle loss. It is common in patients with tumors that affect eating and digestion. It can occur in cancer patients who are eating well, but are not storing fat and muscle because of tumor growth. Some tumors change the way the body uses certain nutrients. The body’s use of protein, carbohydrates and fat may be affected, especially by tumors of the stomach, intestines, head and neck. A patient may seem to be eating enough, but the body may not be able to absorb all the nutrients from the food. Disturbance of digestion and absorption also accompanies some tumors. Nutritional demand in the tumor-bearing state is increased due to alterations either by the neoplasm itself or by the stressed host.

Dietary management for cancer

It is important to maintain proper nutrition before, during and after cancer treatments like radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy and surgery. These procedures and medications can cause many individuals to lose their appetite and energy, putting them at an increased risk for malnutrition. On the other hand, some cancer treatments may cause weight gain. The main goal of medical nutrition therapy is to keep body weight constant. 

Early nutrition screening and assessment help to find problems that may affect how well the patient’s body deals with the effects of cancer treatment. Finding and treating nutrition problems early can help the patient to gain weight or prevent weight loss, decrease problems with the treatment and help recovery.

It is important to treat cancer symptoms and side effects that affect eating and weight loss early. Strategies for preventing weight loss can be identified as increasing appetite, helping food digestion, treating nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, preventing pain, treating mouth problems such as dry mouth, infection, pain and sores.

In order to minimize weight changes, heal properly and maintain the energy to cope with all the new challenges, a wide variety of high-calorie and high-protein foods need to be incorporated in patient management. Protein helps to ensure growth, repair body tissue and maintain a healthy immune system. Without enough protein, the body takes longer to recover from illness and will have a lower resistance to infection. People with cancer often need more protein than usual.

Nutrition needs are different for patients with advanced cancer. It is common that patients with advanced cancer want less food. Patients usually prefer soft foods and clear liquids. Those who have problems swallowing may do better with thick liquids than with thin liquids. Patients often do not feel much hunger at all and may need very little food.

In patients with advanced cancer, most foods are allowed. During this time, eating can be focused on pleasure rather than getting enough nutrients. Patients usually cannot eat enough of any food that might cause a problem. However, some patients may need to stay on a special diet. For example, patients with cancer that affects the abdomen may need a soft diet to keep the bowel from getting blocked.

Nutrition support for patients with cancer

It is acceptable to take in food by mouth whenever possible. Some patients may not be able to take in enough food by mouth because of problems from cancer or cancer treatment.

A patient who is not able to take in enough food by mouth may be fed using enteral nutrition (through a tube inserted into the stomach or intestines) or parenteral nutrition (infused into the bloodstream). The nutrients are given in liquid formulas that have water, protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

Nutrition support can improve a patient’s quality of life during cancer treatment, but there are harms that should be considered before making the decision to use it. The patient and health care providers should discuss the harms and benefits of each type of nutrition support prior to implementation.

Enteral Nutrition

Enteral nutrition is giving the patients nutrients in liquid form (formula) through a tube that is placed into the stomach or small intestine. 

A nasogastric tube is inserted through the nose and down the throat into the stomach or small intestine. This kind of tube is used when enteral nutrition is only needed for a few weeks. A gastrostomy tube is inserted into the stomach and jejunostomy tube is inserted into the small intestine through an opening made on the outside of the abdomen. This kind of tube is usually used for long-term enteral feeding or for patients who cannot use a tube in the nose and throat.

The type of formula used is based on the specific needs of the patient. There are formulas for patients who have special health conditions such as diabetes, chronic kidney diseases and other chronic conditions. 

Enteral nutrition is sometimes used when the patient is able to eat small amounts by mouth, but cannot eat enough for health. Calories and nutrients are given to the patient through tube feeding. 

Enteral nutrition may continue even after the patient leaves the hospital. If Enteral nutrition is to be part of the patient’s care after leaving the hospital, the patient and caregiver will be trained to do the nutrition support care at home.

Parenteral Nutrition

Parenteral nutrition is used when the patient can’t take food by mouth or by enteral feeding. Parenteral feeding does not use the stomach or intestines to digest food. Nutrients are given to the patient directly into the blood, through a catheter (thin tube) inserted into a vein. These nutrients include proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Parenteral nutrition is used only in patients who need nutrition support for five days or more. 

If parenteral nutrition is to be part of the patient’s care after leaving the hospital, the patient and caregiver will be trained to do the nutrition support care at home.

Going off parenteral nutrition support needs to be done slowly. It should be supervised by a medical team. The parenteral feedings are decreased by small amounts over time until they can be stopped, or as the patient is changed over to enteral or oral feeding.

Potential side effects & coping strategies

Cancer and associated treatments often result in taste alterations. Chemotherapy can result in the reduced ability to taste sweetness and a higher sensitivity to bitterness. This changes the flavor of foods like sweets, desserts, fruits and vegetables. Some individuals may experience an unusual dislike for certain foods, flavors and odors. Some studies indicate that zinc supplementation may protect against taste disorders.

Pain medications, changes in eating habits and decreased physical activity can cause bowels to move less frequently and stools to pass more difficult leading to constipation. Cancer treatments and medications can cause bowels to move much more frequently and stools to become very loose resulting in diarrhea. 

Overall, these side effects can result in decreased calorie intake and not meeting daily energy and nutrient requirements, causing weight loss. In addition to effects on appetite and body weight, psychological well-being can also be affected. The pleasure associated with eating can be negatively impacted, resulting in social and emotional impacts. Taking steps to improve nutrition and eating experience can improve physical and emotional well-being.

The potential side effects and associated coping strategies to be implemented for cancer patients are as follows.

Weight Loss 

  • Nutrient dense foods & snacks frequently
  • Small frequent meals throughout the day
  • High calorie high protein foods & snacks

Nausea/vomiting

  • Slow eating
  • Small frequent meals instead of large meals
  • Avoid tight clothing
  • Drink beverages before meals instead of with meals
  • Eat dry & salty foods (toast, crackers, corn chips)
  • Avoid high fat, spicy & highly sweetened foods
  • Avoid foods with strong odors
  • Eat bland & soft foods in treatment days
  • Drink liquids to stay hydrated
  • Sit up or keep head raised for at least 1 hour after eating

Constipation

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Foods high in fiber (raw fruits & vegetables, whole grains, legumes)
  • Incorporate light/moderate physical activity daily

Sore throat/mouth

  • Soft & moist foods
  • Avoid dry & rough foods
  • Avoid tart, acidic, or salty foods and drinks
  • Avoid irritating spices such as chili powder, cloves & hot sauces
  • Avoid season foods with herbs
  • Consume food at a soothing temperature
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine & tobacco

Diarrhea

  • Drink plenty of clear, non-carbonated beverages
  • Avoid fried, spicy & highly sweetened foods
  • Eat easily digestible foods (apple sauce, banana, yogurt & rice)
  • Avoid foods high in fiber, slowly resuming these foods when diarrhea is controlled
  • Eat salty snacks
  • Take high-potassium foods (fruit juices, potatoes, bananas)
  • Avoid foods causing gas/cramping (beans, cabbage, broccoli, spicy foods, carbonated beverages   
  • Limit milk and other lactose-containing foods
  • Avoid chewing gums, sugar-free gums and all candies made with sorbitol  

Fatigue

  • Nutrient dense foods
  • Small frequent meals
  • Drink adequate fluids throughout the day
  • Moderate physical activity

Dry mouth

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Use broths, soups, gravies & yogurt to moisten foods
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Take a swallow of beverage with each bite of food
  • Suck on hard candies/ chew gum to stimulate saliva production

Taste changes

  • Add extra seasoning/condiments
  • New recipes
  • Maintain good oral hygiene to help foods taste better
  • If metallic taste is present, replace metal silverware with plastic
  • Emphasize texture in meals

Poor appetite

  • Add lemon/lime juice to foods due to increased preference for tart flavors
  • Drink tart beverages (Lemon, lime, cranberry)
  • Eat during best times, when feeling hungry
  • Small frequent meals
  • If liquids are more tolerable than solids, consume nutritionally adequate, high calorie liquids
  • Avoid too many liquids with meals to prevent feeling full early
  • Nutrient dense food consumption
  • Be physically active, serving as an appetite stimulant
  • Eat in a pleasant environment

Difficulty in swallowing/ chewing

  • Soft, moist, blended foods 
  • Semi solid foods
  • Altered foods & drinks
  • Drink with a straw
  • Add sauces/liquids to help swallow

 

fighting cancer with nutrition

Nutrition for cancer survivors

Cancer survivors have special health needs, especially because of the risks of late effects and the cancer coming back. Studies have shown that a healthy diet helps to prevent late effects such as obesity, heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Researchers are studying whether certain diet and exercise habits in cancer survivors can keep cancer from coming back or keep new cancers from forming.

Healthy diet and lifestyle habits can improve the quality of life for cancer survivors. Surveys show that many cancer survivors do not follow cancer prevention guidelines and have lifestyle behaviors that may increase their risk for late effects or make late effects worse. Education programs can help cancer survivors learn how to make behavior changes that keep them healthier. Programs that cover diet, exercise, and stress management are more likely to help cancer survivors make lasting changes. 

Plant foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds have antioxidants and phytochemicals that can prevent cancer. They are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. These foods are also naturally low in calories and help to maintain a healthy weight. Antioxidants include vitamin A, C, E, selenium, zinc and some enzymes that absorb and attach to free radicals, preventing them from attacking normal cells and interrupting cancer formation. Consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables, which are good sources of antioxidants, is a healthy way to get antioxidants in the diet and prevent cancer recurrence in cancer survivors.

Article by

W.T.Nilakshi Madhushani

Dietitian/Clinical Nutritionist

SLMC Reg No-45/128

 

Sources

  • Cleveland Clinic

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Understanding Kidney Stones: Its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment.

Understanding Kidney Stones: Its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment.

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Let’s recap what we hear about kidney stones. We often hear people say it’s an extremely painful peeing experience that happens when you don’t drink water. Well that isn’t entirely wrong but there’s so much to it. 

One in every 10 people get affected by this and in Sri Lanka, kidney stones are much more common due to the weather over here. In a minute, you’d know why as you learn the causes of kidney stones. 

Let’s start with the basics. 

What are Kidney Stones?

On a normal day, your kidneys remove waste from your blood by creating urine. 

When there is a lot of waste in your blood and your body is unable to produce enough urine, crystals (made of hard deposits of minerals, salts and other waste) begin to form in your kidneys. 

Kidney stones (also known as urinary stones) can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. And the more they are left untreated, they can get bigger and even cause the failure of your kidneys. Oops. 

kidney stones formation

Dr Nishantha Liyanapathirana, Consultant Urological Surgeon, has mentioned that most of the urinary stones are made of minerals or calcium along with a smaller percentage of toxic materials like uric acid and cysteine. 

On that note, let’s explore what it’s like to have these stones in our urinary tract.

Kidney Stones Symptoms

Usually, if it’s a small stone, you won’t feel anything as it passes with your urine. This is given you drink enough water for it to pass and not grow bigger.

If it’s a relatively big one, you’re going to experience the below signs of discomfort: 

  • Severe pain on either side of your back
  • A constant stomach pain that won’t go away
  • Blood in urine
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever and chills
  • Foul-smelling, unclear urine
  • Pink, red or brown urine
  • Severe pain or burning sensation while passing urine. This happens when the stone is big enough to block the flow of urine and result in irritating that area. 

 

symptoms of kidney stones

If you’re having any of the above kidney stones symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. 

To ease the discomfort in the process of getting yourself treated, opt for an online medical consultation via oDoc. Our network of highly professional medical doctors would be able to prescribe any treatment or screening with just a phone call. 

Ever wondered what may cause this uncomfortable situation? Having the answers to this, could help you avoid and stay clear of kidney stones in the future. 

Kidney Stone Causes

  • If you have a family history of kidney stones, a combination of unhealthy lifestyle habits could push you towards kidney stones. 
  • Not drinking enough water to pass out the bodily waste. 
  • Obesity 
  • Having health problems related to the digestive system.
  • Any weight loss surgery 
  • Eating too much protein, sodium, fructose and salt. 
  • Having polycystic kidney condition 
  • Having a health problem that causes your urine to contain high levels of cystine, oxalate, uric acid or calcium. These constituents define the different types of kidney stones. 

 

Types of Kidney Stones
  • Calcium oxalate: This one is common.  And this is created when calcium combines with oxalate in the urine. Inadequate calcium and fluid intake, and a few other conditions, are the cause of this.
  • Uric acid:  Foods such as organ meats and shellfish have high concentrations of a natural chemical compound known as purines. High level of purine leads to a higher production of monosodium urate, which, under the specific conditions, may form kidney stones.
  • Struvite: They are less common and are appear due to infections in the upper urinary tract.
  • Cystine: These stones are rare and tend to run in families. They reoccur and cannot be cured but can be managed well with a healthy lifestyle. 

So, what’s the next step?

 

Kidney Stone Diagnosis

Let’s say you have your first consultation call with one of our doctors via the oDoc app, depending on your medical history and symptoms, our doctors may direct you to a few tests like X Rays, blood and urine tests. 

Kidney Stone Treatment:

If you ever get diagnosed, your doctor will prescribe a combination of lifestyle changes and medications to alleviate the pain and help pass the kidney stone out of your body. In an event when the kidney stone is too big, surgeries might be suggested, they are usually minimally invasive. Remember, any surgery is usually a last resort to treat kidney stones.

Caution: People make the mistake of taking ibuprofen without asking the healthcare provider. This drug can boost the risk of kidney failure, especially when you have a history of kidney diseases and related illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

Final Takeaway

Cliché but drink lots of water. And keep tabs on intake of sodium, animal protein, carbs and oxalate-rich foods. 

Most importantly, don’t self-diagnose. Kidney stones are usually treatable very easily, mainly when you get it checked earlier as possible. 

Your doctor is only a call away! Download oDoc app here:

Sources

  • Mayo Clinic
  • Healthline
  • Cleveland Clinic

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How to Go Vegan: A Beginner’s Guide to Veganism

How to Go Vegan: A Beginner’s Guide to Veganism

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You’ve been wanting to become a vegan, but you don’t know where to start. Fret not, we got you!

Veganism is a way of living in which you avoid, as much as possible, all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty. Therefore, veganism covers beyond your diet and includes any form of consumption relating to the use of animals. It’s a way of life. 

Did you know? The number of people following a vegan diet has increased by 350% over the last decade. 

It might feel refreshing to try something new like a vegan diet but it’s essential to know the ethics surrounding veganism. In other words, it’s best to know why it’s practiced. 

Why do people go vegan?

1.True vegans believe that all creatures have a right to life and freedom. Simply because, they believe all conscious beings don’t want to endure any suffering, both psychological and physical.

Therefore, vegan consumption doesn’t only extend to meat but also to the animals’ milk, eggs, honey, silk, etc. 

2. Some opt for vegan food for its health benefits. Generally, diets high in meat are linked to various diseases like cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, etc. Whereas plant-based meals are proven to be helpful to prevent these chronic diseases. Not just that, vegan food also comes with benefits like improved digestion, prevention of Alzheimer, hormone-related conditions and obesity. 

Having said that, a vegan diet can also reduce the chance of consuming a range of key nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, iron, iodine, etc. This is why it’s key to talk to a nutritionist to help you plan better. This way, you have a healthier vegan lifestyle, with all the benefits included. 

We have listed some of the highly valued nutritionists in the country on ODoc. To connect with them at your most convenient times, download the ODoc app here. 

Meanwhile, this is our guide to improving your vegan diet in the meantime. 

Reasons to consider veganism

Simple Tips to Improve your Vegan Diet

Perfect diet ideas for veganism

Finding vegan food can feel like an extreme sport at times. Especially, due to the price hikes and less availability of vegan ingredients. 

In the beginning, you may feel your vegan diet is restrictive. It’s okay, all you need is a perspective shift. Instead of thinking about what you are not eating, always ask yourself: What else can I eat? 

Here are some of our recommendations: 

  • Vegetables are your best friend. Generally, veggies are packed with vitamins (A, K and C), minerals like potassium. The key is to consume high protein vegetables, they help you reach your calorie count easily and are usually high in fiber. A win-win in all sides. Some examples are green peas, spinach, artichokes, sweet corn, avocado, mushrooms, kale, potatoes, the list goes on!
  • Make sure your meals include ALL the important nutrition like the vegan protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals and water (the forgotten nutrient). You should eat produce from all colours of the rainbow. For instance, red tomatoes help against prostate cancer, orange fruits help protect your immune system and greens like broccoli help to clear toxins from the body.
  • Pick whole grains. Replace your refined grains like white bread for whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa. This brings more iron and B vitamins to your diet. Not just that, whole grains come with a better fiber content, this means it’s more satisfying too.
  • Find new plant-based vegan proteins. It’s advisable for women to have a daily consumption of 46g of protein and for men, it’s 56g. Since a vegan diet eliminates the common sources of protein that include red meat, eggs and dairy, you have some exploring to do. In a way, it’s amazing because finding new plant-based protein is generally a healthier choice. You could start with tofu, lentils, chickpeas, beans, almonds, sunflower seeds and so much more!
  • Beware of processed vegan foods. These are usually made with saturated-fat-laden palm oil and coconut oil. Instead, pick whole, nutritious foods with vegan ingredients such as carrots and hummus, nuts and dried fruit, whole-grain tortilla chips with guacamole.
  • Don’t miss out on vegan omega-3 fatty acids. They are essential for many bodily functions including, heart health and brain development. However, omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish like tuna and salmon. Having said that, there are vegan sources such as walnut, soymilk, canola oil, etc.
  • Prioritise vitamin B1, iron and vitamin D: These are another set of very important contents for healthy living, and these are usually found in animal-based produce. But again, there are plenty of healthier, vegan alternatives like legumes, energy bars, mushrooms. 

With the help of a nutritionist, a better vegan balanced diet and extensive meal options are highly accessible. Speak to a nutritionist for more details from the safety and comfort of your home via oDoc today!

Sources

  • Healthline
  • Vegan Society 
  • WebMD

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Chronic Inflammation kills. Don’t ignore the signs

Chronic Inflammation kills. Don’t ignore the signs

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A lot of people ignore chronic Inflammation because the term sounds a bit heavy. It’s a simple yet highly important concept. 

Chronic inflammation is the reason why some suffer with back pain, muscle problems, diabetes, asthma, heart diseases and even Alzheimer.

Globally, 3 of 5 people die due to chronic inflammatory related diseases like stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, heart disorders, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.

Therefore, it’s essential to know about chronic Inflammation. Where do we start? Let’s quickly tell you what inflammation is.

Explaining Inflammation

It’s a beautiful day until an outside threat like virus or bacteria tries to enter your body. OR let’s say, you tripped and fell. In either case, your body will activate its immune system. Your immune system will then send out the first responders: inflammatory cells and cytokines (substances that stimulate more inflammatory cells).

These cells create an inflammatory response by trapping the bacteria and other offending agents or start healing the injured tissue. This obviously helps your body. But as it is healing, you will be left with pain, swelling, bruising or redness. This is called acute inflammation. In other words, acute inflammation is just your body reacting to the fight between an outside threat and your inflammatory cells.

When you’re healthy, the effects of inflammation, like irritation and pain, gets better quickly. 

But when your immune system keeps fighting when there is no threat, then inflammation becomes a problem. We call THIS, chronic Inflammation.

So, when do you know you have chronic Inflammation?

Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation

Feeling dizzy or off-balance: Your overly functioning immune system can attack your nerve coatings. This can make it hard for nerve signals to get through. 

Diabetes: Insulin controls the blood sugar level and when chronic inflammation affects it, the insulin won’t function well. This can lead to high blood sugar levels, therefore, diabetes. 

Weak muscles: Chronic inflammation can break down muscle fiber and make it weak. It usually happens around the torso, hips and shoulders.

Lower back pain: Chronic inflammation usually affects the spine and, in some cases, the hips, neck, knees or chest. When this happens, you may feel stiffness in the lower back, mainly in the mornings. 

You’re always tired: This is a usual sign of inflammatory diseases like fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Hardening of the Arteries: If you’re gaining body fat or smoking a lot, your body will respond with chronic inflammation. This can cause fatty build up on the inside walls of your arteries. This is known as arteriosclerosis, it’s the main cause of heart attack and stroke.

Remember: Some signs of chronic inflammation such as  heart or brain problems are silent. Symptoms  like fatigue or back pain can be easily confused with other complications

Therefore, it’s key to get in touch with your doctor when things don’t seem to be going the right way, of course, with your health. Diagnosis is the way to go. 

symptoms of chronic inflammation

Diagnosis of Chronic Inflammation

The first step is a consultation with a general practitioner, this can be done from the comfort of your couch on ANY convenient day. The oDoc app makes diagnosis easy with a list of highly credible health professionals from Sri Lanka

After your consultation, expect blood tests for diagnosis. 

On that note, if you are diagnosed with any inflammatory condition, the doctor may prescribe a combination of medications, surgeries, supplements and lifestyle changes.

This depends on what kind of chronic inflammation illness you are diagnosed with. However, one usual common factor is lifestyle changes that can apply to anyone wanting to keep chronic inflammation at a distance. 

Healthy Lifestyle Changes

lifestyle changes for chronic inlammation
  • Quit smoking.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Manage stress
  • Get regular physical activity.
  • Improve your diet with anti-inflammatory ingredients like olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, tomatoes and fruits like cherries, berries and oranges.

Take your regular check up seriously. Speak to a GP from the safety and comfort of your home via oDoc today!

Sources

  • WebMD
  • Healthline
  • Cleveland Clinic

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You Don’t Want Diabetes, This is Why.

You Don’t Want Diabetes, This is Why.

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Ever wondered why people refer to diabetes as ‘sugar’? Some even assume that diabetes is caused by sugar. There’s a connection for sure, but diabetes is a much more complex health condition. 

What’s more alarming is how common diabetes is.  

It doubles the risk of death. And every 20 seconds one person loses their leg somewhere in the world due to diabetes. 

Globally, more than 530 million people are affected by it, and this is expected to reach a half billion by the end of this decade. Recently, the World Bank reported that in Sri Lanka, 11.3% of the adult population (between the ages of 20 and 79) have diabetes. That’s quite a significant number and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Therefore, you should know a few very important things about diabetes.

Diabetes in Simple Terms

Your body transforms a lot of the food you eat into sugar (glucose) and releases it into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar increases, it signals the pancreas to create insulin. Insulin is used to convert blood sugar into energy.

With diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it that well. This leads to having too much blood sugar in your bloodstream. When this builds up, this can lead to many serious health problems like heart disease, vision loss and kidney failure. 

The poor health condition due to the high blood sugar level is called Diabetes.

The Types of Diabetes and its Causes

You might be curious what causes this, let’s cover that one type at a time. 

Type 1 Diabetes

This results from the failure of pancreas to create enough insulin. Only around 5-10% of those who have diabetes are affected by this type. 

Cause: It’s still not clearly known. Even though some believe it to be the body attacking itself.

Type 2 Diabetes

This occurs when your body doesn’t use insulin well and struggles to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Around 90-95% of the people have type 2 diabetes. 

Cause: Obesity, poor physical activity and genetics have a part to play. 

Did you know? A survey reported that around 30% of the Sri Lankan population didn’t engage in recommended moderate-intensity physical activities. And Females were considered more inactive than males. 

Gestational Diabetes

This happens in pregnancy and often can be harmful for the baby. 

Cause: Mostly unknown but it’s believed that the pregnancy hormones get in the way of the mother’s insulin creation. 

There’s no cure for diabetes of any form. Having said that, with early diagnosis and proper care, all of the above conditions can be managed very well.

Signs of Diabetes

Start by being aware of the symptoms of diabetes. 

  • Weight gain or loss while always feeling hungry 
  • Always thirsty
  • Wanting to urinate all the time
  • Feeling too tired around the clock
  • Blurry vision
  • Frequent genital or skin infections 
  • Cuts and bruises take forever to heal
  • Tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Trouble of getting or maintaining an erection

With diabetes type 2, a majority show no symptoms until it’s too late. This is why regular check-ups are key!

signs of diabetes

Diabetes Diagnosis in Sri Lanka

If you feel the above symptoms are too familiar, head to your nearest hospital or if you’re unsure, you can always call a doctor via oDoc. 

Here are a few tests that your doctor may carry out to diagnose. 

  1. Fasting Blood Sugar: 

You will have to fast for 8 hours without eating or drinking except water.

  1. Random Blood Sugar:
  2. HbA1C:

You don’t have to fast for these tests and it can be carried at any time of the day. 

  1. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test:

You will fast for 8 hours and after that you’ll be given a glucose drink. Two hours later, your blood sample will be taken.

Treating and Preventing Diabetes

If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, it’s not the end of the world. It’s a new beginning to refresh your lifestyle. 

Treatment: 

Your doctor will prescribe oral medications and insulin doses depending on the type of diabetes and the severity of it. 

Other than that, lifestyle changes and regular monitoring makes up a great proportion of it. Interestingly, these are also the two things that are important to prevent diabetes.

Prevention:

  1. Eat healthy. Choose foods that are rich in nutrients and fiber instead of calories and fat. Get the help of a nutritionist if needed; there are plenty of recognised professionals on ODoc. 
  2. Get moving. Allocate a minimum of 30 minutes daily to improve your physical activity. 
  3. Take regular tests. ODoc app connects you with the country’s leading practitioners in seconds. This way, you can find out if you’re eligible for any of the tests in the most convenient way!
preventing diabetes

You don’t always show symptoms so, every 3 years, approach your doctor to learn if you need any. 

However, if you relate to any of the below, you may need to get checked every 12 months.

  • Overweight 
  •  Sedentary lifestyle
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol and lipids
  • Slightly high blood sugar
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Dark, thick and velvety skin over neck and armpits. 

Although there’s no complete cure, diabetes is a completely manageable condition. If you have more questions, speak to an endocrinologist from the safety and comfort of your home via oDoc today!

Sources

  • WHO
  • CDC
  • World Bank
  • SLDF

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