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"Since it runs in my family, what can I do now to prevent or delay diabetes?"


Q There are several members in my family who have been victimized by diabetes, and they have had to find ways to deal with the disease that affects so many Black people. I have a grandmother, uncle and two cousins who are affected in different ways by diabetes. I have heard that there are ways to keep diabetes from becoming a part of your life. Since it runs in my family, what can I do now to prevent or delay the disease? K.W., Atlanta

A With the disease being so prevalent in your family, you are wise to do what you can to avoid the effects of diabetes.

In answer to your question about prevention, there are many scientists who believe diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, can be prevented. Type 1 diabetes, which usually affects children and young adults, is believed to be caused by an allergic-like reaction--possibly to insulin, the pancreas or some substance in the pancreas. If so, doctors say that giving the affected person small injections of insulin could prevent the disease.

A Medical authorities say Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent among African-Americans and adults over 45, accounting for up to 95 percent of cases. It may be associated with an inherited defect that reduces a person's sensitivity to insulin. New medications and lifestyle changes (including routine exercise and a balanced diet) may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Since the disease is so prevalent in your family, you should take special care to monitor your food intake and your physical activity, both of which have a direct impact on blood-sugar levels. You also should be sure to make regular visits to your doctor's office.


Q Like many other women, I occasionally am the victim of a vaginal infection. The last time I had one, I told my friend and she mentioned a condition called "trick," which she says is similar to yeast infections. I had never heard of this condition, so can you give me some information about "trick?" What can be done to treat it? L.E., New York

A Your friend probably was referring to trichomoniasis, an infection caused by a one-celled protozoan called trichomonas, an extremely common cause of vaginal infections. It can also invade the urinary tract and cause an inflammation of the bladder.

Doctors say although trichomoniasis is widespread, it is frequently misdiagnosed as yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis, which are mistakenly thought to be more common than trichomoniasis. In addition to a vaginal discharge, the condition causes itching, soreness, burning and inflammation of the vulva and inside the vagina. Although it can cause small lesions on the cervix, the organism does not invade the uterus or fallopian tubes, nor does it affect fertility.

After diagnosis, trichomoniasis can be treated successfully with medication.


Q My husband grinds his teeth practically every night while he's asleep. I'm a pretty light sleeper, so he wakes me just about every time he does it. What could be causing him to grind his teeth so often, and could this cause some future dental problems? K.B., Washington, D.C.

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