Diabetics - Beware of Bezoars!

March 3rd, 2011

Bezoars were once prized as magical charms with protective properties. Modern day bezoars are now being battled with weapons like meat tenderizer and Coca Cola, especially in diabetic gastroparesis.

A bezoar is a mass of hardened, undigested food or other material trapped in the digestive system, usually the stomach. Bezoars can also form in the large intestine, the trachea, and the esophagus (especially in children).

The word "bezoar" comes from the Persian for "protection from poison". Bezoars from animals were once believed to be antidotes for any type of poison, and were highly prized and sought after in Europe as a type of medical good luck charm for centuries.

People would place bezoars in their drinking glasses as an antidote to any potential poisons, and even set them into jewelry. There was a gold-framed bezoar in the Crown Jewels of Queen Elizabeth I as recently as 1962. Animal bezoars are still in demand from some practitioners of Asian medicine.

Bezoars are often found in people with diabetes mellitus and impaired gastric functioning, both of which can cause underactive digestive systems. Food that sits motionless in the digestive system mixes with mucus and solidifies into a stone-like lump.

Bezoars are classified by their content. Phytobezoars are the most common type, and are formed from undigested plant material. A diospyrobezoar is a common sub-type of phytobezoar formed specifically by the consumption of unripe persimmons.

Pharmacobezoars are masses of undigested drugs, usually found after an overdose of sustained release medications or antacids. Lactobezoars are formed from milk and other dairy products.

Trichobezoars are basically a large hairball, and are usually the result of a psychiatric condition called trichophagia which involves the compulsive pulling out and eating of hair, which humans can not digest. In 2007, Chicago surgeons removed a ten-pound hairball from the stomach of a young woman with the condition.

Doctors usually treat bezoars by attempting to dissolve them with enzymes, with many doctors directing their patients to swallow meat tenderizer. Severe cases may require surgery, laser therapy or shock wave therapy. Since 2002, there have been a number of cases, primarily in diabetes mellitus patients, where doctors successfully used Coca Cola therapy to dissolve diospyrobezoars.

One documented case involved a diabetic gastroparesis patient with three large diospyrobezoars in his stomach. He was instructed to drink two cans of Coke every six hours. Within 24 hours, the bezoars softened and began to dissolve. The doctors then injected cola directly into each bezoar, which caused them to completely dissolve by the next day. Doctors aren't sure why cola helps dissolve bezoars, but assume it's because of its acidity, possibly aided by its carbonation.

The symptoms of a bezoar are similar to those of gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying), and include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and a feeling of being full after eating a small amount of food. As diabetes and gastroparesis often occur together, any such symptoms should be taken seriously by a diabetic.

The Top Ten Diabetes Research Stories of 2010

April 14th, 2011

neon news sign

According to Gary Gilles, About.com's Diabetes Guide and a health writer, educator and counselor, 2010 was an auspicious year in diabetes research and treatment, with many exciting developments.

Gilles has compiled what he considers to be the Top Ten Diabetes Research Stories of 2010. They include the first generation artificial pancreas, an implantable blood glucose sensor, the world's smallest insulin pen needle, a potential diabetes vaccine, and an organ-like insulin-producing cell pouch implant.

To read more about Gilles top picks in his article on About.com, click >HERE<.

International Diabetes Federation Releases Startling Statistics

September 15th, 2011

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has just released some startling new figures on the escalating diabetes epidemic. Global studies reveal that a staggering 366 million people across the world are dealing with diabetes. The disease is responsible for 4.6 million deaths a year and related health cares costs have reached $465 billion in US dollars.

"IDF's latest Atlas data are proof indeed that diabetes is a massive challenge the world can no longer afford to ignore", stressed the president of the IDF, Professor Jean Claude Mbanya, "In 2011, one person is dying from diabetes every seven seconds. The clock is ticking for the world's leaders - we expect action from their High-Level Meeting next week at the United Nations that will halt diabetes' relentlessly upwards trajectory."

The IDF's message to world leaders is that investing in research now will result in savings in the future, reducing the enormous and still growing burden of non-communicable diseases on their health systems. This research should include developing and evaluating approaches for building local health care capacity, as well as integrating diabetes care and services with primary health care services.

The IDF announced the shocking diabetes statistics at the Lisbon meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes,a week ahead of the UN Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases. The hope is that world leaders will finally face up to the challenge posed by diabetes, as well as cancer, heart andchronic respiratorydiseases.

As this will be only the second UN Summit in history to deal with a health-related issue, the global diabetes community is expecting international political leaders to commit to concrete actions and measurable targets to tackle diabetes mellitus and other non-communicable diseases, as they did at the ground-breaking High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS in 2001, said the IDF statement.