Start small to make big fitness changes
Q: I’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and I’m confused about the treatment options. Can you explain?
A: We’re sorry you were diagnosed, but glad you’re aware of it, since it’s estimated that more than 7 million Americans with type 2 don’t know they have the condition, and therefore don’t have the chance that you now have to avoid complications.
First, it’s important to follow your doctor’s advice. Oral diabetes medications are generally prescribed — about 58 percent of folks with type 2 use them — and metformin is usually the first choice. You may add insulin for better glucose control or, if your weight is heading up instead of down, your doctor may talk to you about adding one of the drugs that increase insulin secretion, such as exenatide (Byetta) or sitagliptin (Januvia). However, recent information indicates that these two may increase your risk for pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating, so talk to your doctor about their risks and benefits.
But our goal is to help you be part of the 16 percent of folks with type 2 who don’t take medication or even to see you get rid of your diagnosis altogether, by showing you how to control glucose levels through diet, exercise and stress management. Try these steps:
Step One: Get steppin’. After every meal (three times a day), go for a 15-minute stroll around the block or the parking lot at work. That’s a way to keep blood sugar from spiking in the hour after you eat. It’s also protective for anyone who’s pre-diabetic.
Step Two: Step it up. You’re heading for a walking routine that totals 10,000 steps a day. For info on how to build up to that, go to Sharecare.com.
Step Three: Cool it. Meditation for 12 minutes a day can reduce stress and help you stay with your new healthy routine. Again, see Sharecare.com for instructions.
Step Four: Get cookin’. Your mantra: Avoid the Five Food Felons (added sugars and sugar syrups, any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole, and saturated and trans fats) as if they were poison. They are for you!
Q: I’m 43, and I’ve never had allergies before, but I suspect this drippy, headachy feeling I have isn’t a cold. Is that possible? Bill Y., Brooklyn, New York
A: It doesn’t matter how old you are or whether you’ve had allergies before, you can develop an allergy at any time. It can pop up as a result of exposure to a new substance that your body sees as an allergen (that’s something your immune system mistakenly sees as a foreign invader and mounts a defense against), or it can happen because of repeated exposure to a potential trigger, such as pollen or mold, that eventually causes an immune system reaction.
In allergy seasons like this one, when pollen and mold counts are extremely high (in New York conditions were TWICE as bad as last year), your immune system may become sensitized to those substances. So, seemingly out of the blue (sky), when you once again come in contact with an offending substance — say, mold spores -- your body rockets into battle mode. It cranks out histamines, and you end up with itchy eyes, a runny nose and sinus and lung congestion.
If you’ve been having these kinds of symptoms for more than a week, or off and on for several months, chances are it isn’t a summer cold. But the only way to be sure is to head to an allergist for a skin scratch test to check your reaction to all the usual suspects (grass, trees, mold, pollen). In the meantime, look around for an over-the-counter antihistamine and decongestant. It’s important to treat any allergy sooner than later because it can lead to sinus infections, asthma and even other allergies down the road. If you find the right treatment, you’ll start feeling better right away.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at email@example.com.