DEAR DR. DONOHUE: This past week, our 29-yearold daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Our family is devastated. We thought this was a juvenile illness. What is the longterm prognosis for this disease? Should pregnancy be avoided? She was hoping to start a family. — B.N.’
ANSWER: Type 1 diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes because it often strikes at young ages, but it doesn’t do so exclusively. The name change reflects that fact. It also was called insulin-requiring diabetes because almost all type 1 diabetics must inject insulin for blood sugar control.
The long-term prognosis for diabetes is good if the person can keep blood sugar controlled. Diabetes has many complications — kidney disease, heart disease, artery disease, nerve disturbance and eye problems — but good control of blood sugar can usually keep these complications to a minimum. Most people with type 1 diabetes lead the kind of lives they wish to lead, and most can be as active as they desire. Nowadays, people with diabetes check their blood sugar routinely and frequently adjust their insulin dose accordingly. New varieties of insulin make it easier to keep blood sugar within norms.
Your daughter can have children unless her doctor has told her otherwise. It’s very important for a potential diabetic mother to maintain near-normal blood sugars at the time of conception and throughout pregnancy to prevent any disturbances in the growth and development of the embryo and fetus. These goals are usually achievable.
The diabetes booklet gives an overview of this common condition and its treatment. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 402W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Will you discuss the best way to take multiple medicines in a 24-hour period? I have a friend who downs 13 pills at the same time. Does mixing numerous medicines change their effectiveness? — N.A.
ANSWER: It’s hard not to imagine that, in a batch of 13 different medicines, one or two, at least, would be incompatible with the other 11 or 12. The incompatibility might be a lessened drug absorption in the digestive tract or it might be that some of those drugs react chemically with others in the blood. Your friend should get this straightened out with the doctor or with the pharmacist.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: In my family when I was growing up, Epsom salts were used for everything. I never hear people say they use them these days. Why not? Don’t they work? — S.M.
ANSWER: Epsom salts come from the mineral waters of Epsom, England. When the water evaporates, magnesium sulfate is left. Local entrepreneurs promoted the salts as a cure-all for many ailments.
One use was soaking sore muscles or joints. No harm comes from using the salts for that. Others used Epsom salts as a laxative. That’s not a terrific idea. They’re too harsh on the digestive tract.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
©2009 North America Synd.