In the slightly futuristic 2016 sci-fi movie “Nerve,” Vee (Emma Roberts) finds herself playing an online game that takes over her life and tests her nerve. Scary stuff. In the real world, people with Type 2 diabetes who suffer peripheral nerve pain find that it’s no game, it’s very scary and it also can take over their life.
Peripheral nerve pain is a common complication of Type 2 diabetes, resulting from poorly controlled blood sugar, especially over the long haul. It happens to around half of folks with diabetes. Symptoms include tingling, burning sensations in fingers and toes, sharp pain or cramps in arms and legs, and extreme sensitivity to touch. It can cause loss of coordination, wound-healing problems, sleep disruption and limited overall activity.
General treatments may involve antidepressants, anti-seizure meds such as those in the gabapentin family or opioids, as well as topical capsaicin cream and lidocaine patches, and even surgery. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases adds that topical alpha-lipoic acid and evening primrose oil also may help improve nerve function. But since every case is different, sufferers can spend what seems like a lifetime searching for relief.
Finally an in-depth review of various treatments has pinpointed what’s most likely to provide some relief. A recent study published in Neurology has determined:
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▪ There’s moderate evidence that the antidepressants duloxetine and venlafaxine are effective in reducing neuropathy-related pain;
▪ There’s some evidence that botulinum toxin, the anti-seizure drugs pregabalin and oxcarbazepine, tricyclic antidepressants and atypical opioids also can be somewhat effective in reducing pain.
Protect children from the opioid epidemic
Is it any wonder that with the recent rise in opioid prescriptions, accidental opioid overdoses by children have risen too? From 1997 to 2012, among kids 10-14, the incidence of accidental poisoning increased 82 percent and the rate of children hospitalized for opioid poisoning increased 165 percent.
As Julie Gaither, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale School of Public Health and lead author of a recent study on kids and opioid overdoses published in JAMA, told National Public Radio: “Enough opioids are prescribed every year to put a bottle of painkillers in every household. They’re everywhere, and kids are getting into them.” So what can be done?
Doctors, talk to your patients about the importance of secure medication storage and disposal of unused meds. Parents, install a medicine cabinet with a lockable or very hard-to-open latch. Keep kidproof tops on all opioid meds (even if they’re adult-proof too). Also, make sure to dispose of unused meds at a local “take back” center or pharmacy. As your kids grow up, don’t forget to have frequent conversations about the dangers of recreational drug use; check out “Facing Addiction Over Dinner” at www.doctoroz.com.
One more reason not to drink sodas
You’ve seen the movie: A bump in the attic; an attractive young woman, alone in the house, decides to investigate. Slowly, she ascends the stairs. At the top, there’s a door that’s closed. She listens, thinks she hears something, and reaches for the doorknob. You want to scream out, “Don’t do it!”
Well, that’s how we feel when we see anyone reaching for a can of soda. Besides being associated with weight gain, diabetes and heart disease, soda is also strongly linked to high blood pressure.
The INTERMAP (International Study of Macro/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure) found that people who regularly drink sugary and even diet sodas have higher blood pressure than those who don’t. Those findings back up the Nurses Health Study that found “compared with women who drank less than a can of regular cola a day, women who drank four or more cans of cola a day had a 44 percent higher risk (of high blood pressure).” That’s something the 75 million Americans with high blood pressure should pay attention to.
But here’s the really great news: According to Fortune Magazine, soda sales in the U.S. in 2016 dropped for the 11th consecutive year. Leading the charge, or plunge, were diet sodas. Researchers believe that was because of the emerging public distrust of the sugar substitute aspartame. So the next time you reach for can of soda, repeat the new mantra: so-damaging! Just don’t do it!
How to use foods to calm down and dodge dementia
Cherimoya, samphire, jabuticaba, kiwano, pumelo and Romanesco. No, that is not the name of an international law firm, or the six magic words that will open the hidden door in King Tut’s tomb. Those are very memorable fruits and vegetables that help reduce stress, bolster your memory and protect your brain from dementia.
A recent study in the journal Age and Aging found that adults who regularly eat three servings of veggies and two of fruit slash their risk for dementia substantially — and upping it to six servings of veggies was superprotective. Another study, in Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience, found that for every 3 ounces of vegetables eaten daily, there’s a 13 percent reduction in cognitive impairment, and folks with the highest consumption of fruits and vegetables slashed their risk for dementia by 20 percent. Now, that’s thinking smart!
On top of that, a study in British medical journal Open measured the fruit and vegetable consumption of more than 60,000 people ages 45 and older and found that people who ate five to seven servings of vegetables daily had a 14 percent lower risk of psychological distress (sadness) than those who ate four or fewer servings daily.
So if you want to get happy — and be able to remember those happy times — the smart move is to eat five to nine servings of fruits and veggies daily. (Psst: Cherimoya, jabuticaba, kiwano and pumelo are fruits; samphire and Romanesco are veggies.)
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.