Friday, 28 November 2014


Human mind is filled with desires. It may be related to profession, personal life or purely to enjoy a cosy life!

Desires are good!

Professional desires help us set targets for ourselves and angle us towards achieving great heights.

Personal desires and wish buckets help us challenge ourselves to a better living!

Without desires life will be Monotonous & Boring.

From time immemorial it has been a neat business trick to capitulate on human desires for better profits!

Give the man what he wants......  He will forgo his fortune to fulfil his desires....

Why am I talking about this?

Well, as we all know Diabetes is spreading far and wide.
India has become the Capital of Diabetes. Chennai is slowly moving towards having 40% of its people affected by Diabetes. 

Now why actually are people scared of Diabetes?

  • Can’t eat sweets!
  • Have to go for walking!
  • Intermittent and excessive snacking has to be controlled!
  • Diet restrictions & Modifications!
Do you think people are scared of these things?
The answer is a pure NO!!
Now in the era of internet dominating our lives diet restrictions and exercise are slowly becoming more common even in a non-diabetic population. People follow these may be for pure weight loss or to prevent Diabetes or just to stay Healthy!

If these are not bothering people why is everybody scared of Diabetes?

It is the puzzles associated with diabetes which scares people....
By puzzles I mean the inner conflict which a person with Diabetes goes through... Every single symptom starts a war of thoughts inside the 1.5kg battle ground called the brain...
Numbness or tingling in feet........ Are my nerves affected? Will I lose my limb? Will I be bedridden?
Lesser urine or passing yellowish urine....... what about my kidneys? Sugar is eating up the kidneys? Dialysis? Kidney transplant?
Slight discomfort in chest ...... Diabetics can have silent heart attacks. Am I having one right now?
These may sound funny or over exaggeration for some of you.  No.... these thoughts do linger in every person with Diabetes!

As Doctors we always suggest some preventive measures. Some specific and some general...

  • Reduce fried foods
  • Reduce salt
  • Avoid sugar and carbonated drinks.
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Check your feet everyday
  • Have regular checkups so that problems may be identified and corrected in the very early stages.
Here comes the business! The profit!

Advances in technology have helped find alternatives for every Doctor’s advice.
Some have worked and some are yet to reach the masses.

Now two things which stand out among the recommendations are

  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Stop smoking
Believe me or not! Some company has started advertisements of non-alcoholic whiskey!

Smoking! This is something which the patient lies every time to the Doctor!
“I stopped years ago!!”
“I used to smoke 2 PACKETS  a day... Now I smoke only 2”

It is the pure addiction which makes the person lie for years....The Desire!

Few years back came the E-cigarettes! Claimed to be less harmful than the routine cigarettes. Every mode of personal advertising was exploited..Promises of being a safe alternate to smoking. Innumerable phone calls from companies claiming to sell E-cigarettes, ads in websites and what not....
E-cigarettes were poised to overtake traditional cigarettes in a decade or so...

So how do these basically work?
They look like the real thing. The end glows as you inhale. As you exhale, you puff out a cloud of what looks like smoke. It's vapour! All e-cigarettes work basically the same way. Inside, there's a battery, a heating element, and a cartridge that holds nicotine and other liquids and flavours. Features and costs vary. Some are disposable. Others have a rechargeable battery and refillable cartridges. Using an e-cigarette is called "vaping."
Are these safe?
NO! Nicotine inside the E-cigarette is addictive. You can get withdrawal symptoms including feeling irritable, depressed, restless and anxious.
What we advised all these years?
Not a smoker - Don't start vaping. There are no health benefits and some risks.
Decided to Quit smoking - Better off with an FDA-approved method of quitting, like the nicotine patch or gum.
Not decided about quitting - would it be healthier to switch from tobacco products to e-cigarettes? Maybe! Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.

What happened now?
Recent research shows otherwise!
E-cigarettes contain up to 10 times the amount of cancer-causing agents as regular tobacco. Researchers found carcinogens such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in vapour produced by several types of e-cigarette liquid. Formaldehyde- a substance found in building materials and embalming fluids- was present at levels 10 times those found in the smoke from regular cigarettes.
Final Conclusion is......
Nicotine in any form is unsafe...
Best way to quit smoking is never in turning to alternatives....
Never fully believe advertisements..... Particularly Health related....
“Everybody lies” to make money....
Your health lies in your hands! Make an informed decision!

Dr.Riyaz Sheriff
Consultant Diabetologist

Monday, 10 November 2014


Hi there...

Hope you all enjoyed a beautiful Diwali...

Here in Chennai it was a wonderful weather with Monsoon setting in making Chennai a “cool” place.

Last three weeks I have written about three important topics

Now we will discuss about one of the main PILLARS of diabetes management – Sulphonylureas
These classes of drugs were introduced in the 1950’s....  A classical example for “Accidental Discovery”... Yes, the blood sugar reducing potential of these compounds was discovered as a side effect... Actually at that point of time scientists were busy discovering oral antibiotics. When some of the sulphonamides were used for treating infections in diabetic patients they also noticed a remarkable reduction in blood and urine sugar values. This slowly translated into the first generation sulphonylureas – Carbutamide, Tolbutamide, Chlorpropamide and Tolazamide. These drugs were very effective in treatment of Type 2 Diabetes.  These drugs helped millions wean off insulin and live a near normal life. Unfortunately these drugs were taken off due to harmful side effects on bone marrow and blood profile. The next generation drugs which we are using are
Glibenclamide – DAONIL *
Glipizide – GLYNASE *
The latest member of the family is Glimipride- 3rd Generation Sulphonylurea (AMARYL, GP, GLIMESTAR*). This molecule claims to have a cardioprotective effect and is supposed to give a smoother control of blood sugars.

How do these drugs work?

To put it in very very simple words these drugs bind to receptor on the cell membrane of pancreatic beta cells (insulin producing cells) this binding results in a series of chemical reactions and finally increases the intracellular calcium level in the Beta cell leading to release of insulin. So basically speaking these drugs do not increase insulin production. They only help to bring out the already produced insulin.

How to take these drugs?

For some unknown reasons the timing of these drugs are not given due importance. The mode of action which I have explained here is an over simplified version. It contains more intricate steps which needs time. In order to obtain the full benefit of the drug and to get a proper sugar control Sulphonylureas have to be taken 30minutes before food. This family currently comprises of 4 members and all of them come as plain tablets or in combination with metformin or as a megamix of sulphonylurea + metformin + pioglitazone. Personally i do not prefer using triple drug combinations as dose adjustments becomes more confusing plus the chances of appearance of unwanted side effects are more when such multiple combinations are used.


These drugs are like a boon to Diabetic patient saving him from daily pricks for approximately 10-15years. Lucky are those who continue to get better control after 20years with oral drugs. All these drugs come with minimal side effects which may be clinically evident in a very small percentage of patients. So I am not going to discuss about them in detail. But, the most common disadvantage with this group of drugs is that they can push you into severe hypoglycaemia if used inadvertently...

Winding  up....

Sulphonylureas are real pillars for effective management of Diabetes. Used as per recommendations they serve you well. When dosing sulphonylureas the chances of hypoglycaemia have to be kept in mind. Never try to double the dose of half the dose without expert help. I think i have covered the most important drugs used in Diabetes. My next post would be on Newer drugs used in Diabetes..

Till then.....

Take care...


Dr.Riyaz Sheriff
Consultant Diabetologist

*- Trade names are used only for the sake of familiarity. Author does not intend to support any of these brands using this blogpost..

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