Book Reviews: 101 Tips for Improving Your Blood Sugar a project of The American Diabetes Association-122 pages, $12.50

Having diabetes doesn’t make us all instant medical experts. It can be just as hard for us to understand “doctor lingo” as it is for the average guy on the street-we just hear more of it!

The American Diabetes Association has come out with a fabulous book called “101 Tips for Improving Your Blood Sugar.” It is possibly the most straightforward guide on the market.

Written by the University of New Mexico Diabetes Care Group and edited by David S. Schade, MD, 101 Tips is laid out in easy to read chapters. The tips, in a “Q & A” format, present common questions and clear answers without overly-scientific words and without talking down. Many of the questions are not those that “fancier” books confront. They involve the practicalities of day-to-day life, including how to eat socially, how to deal with the fear of needles, and how to find a carekit that fits your lifestyle.

Dr. Schade says, “I believe that it has been difficult for people with diabetes to identify the specific information they need and hope our book provides this material.”

In the introduction to 101 Tips, the authors state that “the medical consequences of high blood sugar are largely preventable when the blood sugar is kept in the normal range.” The Diabetes Care Group has spent the last ten years successfully treating people with diabetes. 101 Tips is “a collection of their suggestions and experiences.”

Each tip is conveniently labeled as applicable to type I, type 2, or both. The book explains the symptoms of diabetes, why it is important to treat the disease, and how to get along with the least amount of risk and discomfort.

Some favorite questions (and partial answers) from the book:

Q: “How can I sleep late on weekends without waking up with high blood sugar?”}

A: “Set your alarm for 6 a.m., get up, go to the bathroom, and check your blood sugar. If your blood sugar is high,}take 2 to 4 units of regular insulin so that while you are sleeping late, your blood sugar will slowly decline. If your blood sugar is low, you should drink some juice or milk. If you are normal, take 1 or 2 units of regular insulin and go back to sleep…”

Q: “Why do my blood sugars read lower on my glucose meter when I travel from Miami (sea level) to Albuquerque (5,000 foot elevation)?”

A: “Most glucose meters use a chemical reaction that requires oxygen from the air to measure your blood sugar. At high altitudes there is less oxygen in the air, which causes the results to be lower…”

Some other pertinent questions include: “Why do I sometimes seem to get low blood sugar after having sex?”; “When I am ill with the flu, what should I do to keep my blood sugar from going too high?”; “How will alcohol affect my blood sugar?”

Says Dr. Schade, “With a small amount of effort, a great improvement in the control of many people is achievable.”

Understanding what works for the individual is the key. Once this knowledge is obtained, good glucose control is possible.

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