Health

Can a Digital Doctor Help You Sleep?

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THURSDAY, Sept. 7, 2017 (HealthDay News) — If you’ve been having trouble getting some sleep, a new online therapy program may help ease your insomnia, a new study says.

The online program also reduced patients’ rates of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations, the study found.

“Getting our shut-eye can help improve psychological health. Sleeping well can help shift our blues, reduce our fears, and make us happier,” said lead author Daniel Freeman, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford in England.

The online program is called “Sleepio.” It’s an interactive digital cognitive behavioral therapy program that participants could access online.

The study included more than 3,700 insomnia patients in the United Kingdom. About half were assigned to Sleepio. The others received no treatment and acted as a control group.

The 10-week treatment program involved six sessions of 20 minutes each that featured an animated therapist. The participants also completed daily sleep diaries, which were used by the program to provide personalized advice.

By the end of the program, patients had an average 5-point reduction in insomnia on a 0-32 point scale. They also had a 2-point reduction in paranoia and a 1.5-point reduction in hallucinations, according to the study.

The patients also had improvements in depression, anxiety, psychological well-being, nightmares and perceived functioning, Freeman’s team said.

The improvements in mental health symptoms were largely due to improved sleep, suggesting a possible causal role, the researchers said. They said their findings highlight the importance of treating sleep problems in the general population.

The study was published Sept. 6 in The Lancet Psychiatry.

“When it comes to psychological disorders, sleep problems are very much the poor relation. For too long insomnia has been trivialized as merely a symptom, languishing way down in the league table of problems to be tackled,” Freeman said in a journal news release.

“However, how well we sleep might actually play a role in our mental health. For many people, insomnia can be part of the complex package of causes of mental health difficulties. If you can sort out your sleep, you could also be taking a significant step forward in tackling a wide range of psychological and emotional problems,” Freeman said.

Tea Lallukka, from the University of Helsinki in Finland, and Borge Sivertsen, of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, authored an accompanying editorial. “The findings highlight the potential benefits of the implementation of easily available and low-cost internet therapies for insomnia,” they wrote.

“Treatment of insomnia might help reduce the burden of mental ill health and prevent onset of symptoms such as hallucinations and paranoia. The findings add to understanding of the significance of insomnia as a causal factor in mental ill health, and corroborate findings from observational studies or smaller trials,” Lallukka and Sivertsen said.

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Can’t Afford the Dentist? You’re Not Alone

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THURSDAY, Sept. 7, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Nobody loves a trip to the dentist, but for many middle-aged Americans even basic dental care is now financially out of reach, a new poll finds.

In fact, 28 percent don’t have dental insurance, while 56 percent don’t get dental care except for serious dental problems, researchers said.

Even more troubling is that 51 percent of people surveyed said they didn’t know how they will get dental insurance after they turn 65, said lead researcher Erica Solway. She’s a senior project manager at the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

According to the poll, 40 percent said they don’t get regular cleanings or other preventive care, Solway said.

“For the majority of folks, cost was the main barrier to dental care,” she said.

Solway noted that dental clinics or dental schools often provide care at lower costs or with a sliding scale based on income.

“There are options for people who can’t afford getting care from a traditional dentist’s office,” she said.

Regular checkups and cleanings may be the best way to prevent serious tooth or gum problems, Solway said. “Most dental problems can be prevented by getting regular preventive care.”

Poor dental care also affects quality of life, Solway said. One in three of those surveyed between the ages of 50 and 64 said they were embarrassed by the condition of their teeth.

Many responders said dental problems have caused pain, difficulty eating, missed work or other health problems, Solway said. “There are a lot of social factors in play here in addition to health ones,” she said.

These findings are part of a new report from the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, released Sept. 7. The poll was a nationally representative sample that included more than 1,000 people ages 50 to 64.

According to the report, about 13 percent of middle-aged adults think Medicare or Medicaid will cover their dental care needs after they turn 65.

But in fact, Medicare does not cover routine dental care, and Medicaid dental coverage is often limited to children, Solway said.

“Oral health is just as important as other parts of health,” said Dr. Ronald Burakoff, chair of dental medicine at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“The mouth is a mirror of the body,” he said. For example, if you have infection in the mouth it can spread to other parts of the body, he explained.

“Oral health has to be considered as part of total health,” Burakoff said.

According to the poll, about 60 percent of the responders got regular preventive care as well as care for dental problems.

Those most likely to get preventive dental care were white women with high incomes or insurance.

Men, blacks, Hispanics and those with low incomes or without insurance were more likely to get dental care for problems only, researchers found.

Among those who got preventive dental care, only 13 percent said they delayed or didn’t get dental care when they needed it in the last two years.

Among those who didn’t get regular preventive care, 35 percent said they hadn’t gotten care when they needed it in the last two years.

Of those who didn’t get regular dental care, 69 percent said they couldn’t afford it.

In addition, some said they were afraid to see a dentist, didn’t have time to go, or couldn’t find a dentist.

Among people who didn’t see a dentist for care they needed, 1 in 5 said they were afraid of the dentist, Solway said.

The researchers also found that 16 percent said employer-based coverage or a retirement-based plan would cover their dental costs after 65, 12 percent said they planned to buy supplemental dental insurance, and 8 percent said they would go without insurance.

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You’re Only as Full as You Expect to Be

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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 6, 2017 (HealthDay News) — How filling you think a meal will be can affect how much you eat later, a small study found.

The research included 26 people who ate what they were told were two-egg and four-egg omelets on two different mornings. But both omelets contained three eggs.

When people ate what they believed to be the smaller omelet, they said they were much hungrier after two hours, ate much more of a pasta lunch and consumed significantly more calories throughout the day than when they believed they had eaten a larger omelet.

The findings were to be presented Thursday at a British Psychological Society meeting.

“Previous studies have shown that a person’s expectations can have an impact on their subsequent feelings of hunger and fullness and, to a degree, their later calorie consumption,” study leader Steven Brown, of Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom, said in a society news release.

“Our work builds on this with the introduction of solid food and measured people’s subsequent consumption four hours later, a period of time more indicative of the gap between breakfast and lunch,” he said.

Brown said the researchers also measured the food people ate throughout the rest of the day and found that total intake was lower when participants thought they had eaten the larger breakfast.

The researchers also measured levels of ghrelin in the blood. Ghrelin is a known hunger hormone.

“Our data also suggest that changes in reported hunger and the differences in later consumption are not due to a differences in participants’ physical response to the food,” Brown explained.

“Therefore, memory for prior consumption, as opposed to physiological factors, may be a better target for investigating why expectations for a meal have an effect on subsequent feelings of hunger and calorie intake,” he concluded.

Studies presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Belfast scientists say aspirin could reverse tooth decay

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Tooth cavityImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Tooth decay can lead to cavities forming

Aspirin could reverse the effects of tooth decay and could lead to fewer fillings being needed in the future, researchers in Belfast have said.

Initial research at Queen’s University has found aspirin stimulates stem cells in teeth, enhancing tooth regeneration.

Tooth decay, the most common dental disease, leads to the inflammation of the tooth nerve, causing toothache.

The British Dental Association reported in 2016 that 72% of 15-year-olds in Northern Ireland have dental decay.

That figure compared to 44% in England and 63% in Wales.

Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a drug that has been used for many years as a painkiller. It has an anti-inflammatory action, and is used to relieve headache, menstrual pain and muscle aches. It costs one penny a tablet.

Image caption Tooth decay is usually caused by a build-up of plaque, bacteria in plaque produce acids which weakens the enamel of the teeth

Teeth naturally have limited regenerative abilities. They can produce a thin band of dentine – the layer just below the enamel – if the inner dental pulp becomes exposed, but this cannot repair a large cavity.

Current treatment for tooth decay involves fillings, which may need to be replaced many times during the lifetime of the tooth.

Prof Ikhlas El Karim is a senior lecturer in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast.

Her research focuses on dental stem cells found in teeth and how dentists can enhance their ability to regenerate and repair damaged teeth, removing the need for fillings.

The research findings, to be presented on Thursday at the British Society for Oral and Dental Research annual conference, show that aspirin can enhance the function of those stem cells, thus helping self-repair by regenerating lost tooth structure.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption The fact that aspirin is already a licensed drug should help the development of the treatment, the researchers say

“Ideally, what we’re really reporting here is that we’re hoping to be able to develop a therapy [so] that the teeth could repair themselves,” she said.

“This is going to be gradual, it’s not going to be the end of the filling straight away.”

The researchers collated large amounts of previous research data to indentify aspirin as a compound that can induce the gene signature needed to generate new dentine.

The QUB scientists then treated stem cells in a Petri dish with aspirin and found “genetic and also material evidence that it can produce dentine”.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Dental decay has long been a problem in children’s teeth throughout the UK

“The next step is to go and try and figure out how you are going to apply the aspirin to the teeth, to regenerate the dentine and to replace the need for fillings.”

Applying the aspirin to teeth will not involve simply putting it on an infected tooth however.

“You need to put it [on the tooth] in a way that it can be easily released over a long period of time, if you put an aspirin now on a cavity, it’s going to be washed away,” Dr El Karim said.

“We are not encouraging that, there is a scientific way to go about this, so that we produce a final product that can be used by a dentist, not by a patient.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Fillings may need to be replaced many times during the lifetime of the tooth

“The next step is to work with our pharmacy colleagues to try to develop a vehicle to put it in to the teeth, after that clinical trials.”

Dr El Karim said the fact that aspirin is already a licensed drug should help the development of the treatment.

“We are not really talking about 10 or 20 years time, it will probably be in the near future that it could be tried in a clinical trial with patients,” she said.

“There is huge potential to change our approach to one of the biggest dental challenges we face.

“This novel approach could not only increase the long-term survival of teeth, but could also result in huge savings for the NHS and other healthcare systems worldwide.”

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Litigation ‘threatening NHS finances’

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DoctorImage copyrightThinkstock

The rising cost of litigation is threatening the financial health of the NHS in England, auditors are warning.

The National Audit Office says the bill for clinical negligence has quadrupled in the last 10 years, reaching nearly £1.6bn last year.

It is urging the government to do more to curb the costs.

But ministers say they are taking steps, pointing out moves have been made to limit lawyer fees as well as a swifter resolution for birth injuries.

The latter tends to attract the highest damages awards because of the lifelong care that is needed in the worst cases.

But the NAO said on their own these measures would still not be enough.

It said some trusts were already spending 4% of their income on clinical negligence, which was proving too much.

And it said this could become the norm – with annual costs expected to top £3bn by 2020-21.

It pointed out there was no evidence more mistakes were being made or care was getting less safe.

Instead, the NAO said the rising costs were related to higher damages awards, higher lawyer fees and more claims.

NAO head Amyas Morse said litigation was a “significant” cost placing pressure on an “already stretched system”.

And Niall Dickson of the NHS Confederation said: “We cannot go on like this. This rising tide of litigation is draining the NHS of resources and must be urgently addressed.”

A Department of Health spokesman said the steps being taken would help.

But he added “there is still more to do”, adding a new strategy would be developed in the future.

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Public ‘tricked’ into buying unhealthy food

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Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionHow often do you get offered a large coffee with cream?

The UK’s obesity crisis is being fuelled by businesses pushing unhealthy food and larger portions on shoppers, according to health experts.

The Royal Society for Public Health warned consumers were being tricked by a marketing ploy known as upselling.

The tactic involves shops, cafes and restaurants encouraging customers to upgrade to larger meals and drinks or adding high-calorie toppings and sides.

A poll suggested eight in 10 people experienced it every week.

How upselling fuels obesity

78%

of people experience upselling each week

106

upsells per person per year

  • 35% added sides like chips to meal

  • 34% bought a larger coffee

  • 17,000 extra calories on average over a year

Source: Royal Society of Public Health/Slimming World
PA

The most common upsells to be taken included larger coffees, bigger meals, sweets and chocolates and extra sides such as onion rings and chips.

Royal Society for Public Health chief executive Shirley Cramer said the industry was pressuring the public into buying extra calories, which then added up “without us noticing”.

She said businesses needed to stop training staff to upsell high-calorie food and instead focus on healthy alternatives.

The findings were drawn from a poll of more than 2,000 UK adults by the RSPH and Slimming World.

Those who had experienced upsells had been targeted more than twice a week on average, with younger people the most susceptible.

The most common place for it to happen was restaurants, followed by fast-food outlets, supermarkets, coffee shops and pubs and bars.

The research showed many of the upsells were unhealthy options, with the average person who fell victim to the technique consuming an average of 17,000 extra calories a year, enough to gain an extra 5lbs (2.3kg) over 12 months.

‘I kept falling for upsells’

Image copyrightother

Liam Smith, 25, from West Yorkshire, is just one of the many people who have been persuaded by the marketing ploy.

But since recognising he was eating too much he has lost 6st (38kg) and now refuses upsells.

“Being able to ‘go large’ on a meal for 30p extra was always a no-brainer for me, as was a few pence more for a large cup of hot chocolate or paying £1 more to turn a single burger into a double.

“Afterwards, I’d wish I hadn’t done it though – I can only describe it as a major feeling of guilt.”

The top 10 places for upselling

  1. Restaurants
  2. Fast-food outlets
  3. Supermarkets
  4. Coffee shops
  5. Pubs and bars
  6. Cinemas
  7. Planes and airports
  8. Petrol stations
  9. Newsagents
  10. Railway stations

The practice occurs at the point-of-sale and is not at the customer’s request.

Examples include a coffee shop barista asking if you would like a large rather than a regular-sized coffee or if you want whipped cream added.

Another popular one is a fast-food worker asking if you would like to make a meal large for only a minimal cost.

One worker told researchers: “I’ve been trained so that if a customer asks for a product, I always ask if they’d like to make that a meal.”

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Some bar workers are also trained to nudge people towards buying a double rather than a single measure.

But Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said there was “absolutely no evidence” of upselling in pubs.

“Telling people what to do is not what you do,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “You go to a pub and there’s a certain amount of free choice.”

She adds: “There are actually fewer calories in half a pint of beer than there are in a glass of orange juice.”

And Andrew Opie, of the British Retail Consortium, also disputed that supermarkets upsold.

He said: “They promote and market products in store, but ensure there is a balance of products and it is offered as choice rather than upselling.”

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Did you order that large coffee with whipped cream?

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Businesses have been criticised for trying to sell you more than you’ve asked for.

The Royal Society for Public Health is warning that it could be fuelling the obesity crisis, but how often does it happen?

Video produced and edited by Phoebe Frieze. Filmed by Jonathan Sumberg.

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Anxiety over health ’caused by cyber-chondria’

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Woman in waiting area holding her chestImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Worrying excessively about health issues should be picked up and treated, researchers said

Worrying excessively about health, and going for unnecessary appointments and tests, is a growing problem – fuelled by looking up symptoms on the internet, researchers say.

Health anxiety can also be caused by previous health scares and could affect one in five hospital out-patients.

UK researchers said psychotherapy could reduce anxiety and should be on offer in all hospitals.

They are calling for official health anxiety guidelines to be drawn up.

A team including researchers from Imperial College London and King’s College London said the symptoms of health anxiety were often mistaken for those of a physical illness and included chest pains and headaches that didn’t go away.

Even when a doctor offered reassurance that there was no underlying physical reason for their symptoms, patients continued to worry and look for a diagnosis.

And this led to expensive and unnecessary medical appointments and investigations, as well as time off work, they said.

Prof Peter Tyrer, emeritus professor in community psychiatry at Imperial College London, said the internet had a part to play.

“We suspect that [health anxiety] is increasing in frequency because of what is now called ‘cyber-chondria’.

“This is because people now go to their GPs with a whole list of things they’ve looked up on the internet, and the poor GP, five minutes into the consultation, has four pages of reading to do,” he said.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Cyber-chondriac? Looking up symptoms online is one way to create anxiety over your health

“Dr Google is very informative, but he doesn’t put things in the right proportion.”

Prof Tyrer said patients didn’t tend to pay attention to the word “rare” if they thought they had a disease.

The researchers, mostly mental health experts, said it was important to identify people with health anxiety and offer them treatment so their overall wellbeing improved.

They estimate that the problem could be costing the NHS at least £420m a year.

Useful therapy

In their study, published in the National Institute for Health Research journal, they found that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions were much more effective at improving health anxiety than standard care, and the benefits lasted for up to five years.

They tracked 444 patients with severe health anxiety from five hospitals in England.

Nurses were just as good at delivering CBT as trained psychologists and doctors, the study suggested.

Prof Tyrer said official guidelines on how to treat health anxiety, from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), were “greatly overdue”.

He said health anxiety was common in those with other physical illnesses, but was often ignored.

“So people, after apparently successful treatment of heart attacks, would interpret minor symptoms as warnings of further attacks, cut down on all their activities, create more suffering and have their lives thrown into chaos and disarray.”

Mind and body

The researchers urged doctors to ask patients whether they were anxious about their health.

They said people were increasingly asked to monitor their own bodies for symptoms and diseases, and that was also fuelling health anxiety.

Prof John Chambers, consultant cardiologist at Guy’s and St Thomas Hospital, said health anxiety caused repeated attendances in accident and emergency departments, GP surgeries and out-patient clinics and led to “over-investigation by clinicians”.

He said they should consider a psychological explanation and a psychological intervention instead.

“These then need to take place locally and not at a site distant from the patient’s presentation, so as to avoid the implied but unhelpful mind-body separation,” he said.

NICE said its website featured guidance on general anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder in adults that could be relevant.

It said NHS England had to refer specific topics to it before it could decide whether guidance was appropriate.

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‘Pen’ identifies cancer in 10 seconds

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Cancer penImage copyrightUniversity of Texas

A handheld device can identify cancerous tissue in 10 seconds, according to scientists at the University of Texas.

They say it could make surgery to remove a tumour quicker, safer and more precise.

And they hope it would avoid the “heartbreak” of leaving any of the cancer behind.

Tests, published in Science Translational Medicine, suggest the technology is accurate 96% of the time.

The MasSpec Pen takes advantage of the unique metabolism of cancer cells.

Their furious drive to grow and spread means their internal chemistry is very different to that of healthy tissue.


How it works

The pen is touched on to a suspected cancer and releases a tiny droplet of water.

Chemicals inside the living cells move into the droplet, which is then sucked back up the pen for analysis.

The pen is plugged into a mass spectrometer – a piece of kit that can measure the mass of thousands of chemicals every second.

It produces a chemical fingerprint that tells doctors whether they are looking at healthy tissue or cancer.


The challenge for surgeons is finding the border between the cancer and normal tissue.

In some tumours it is obvious, but in others the boundary between healthy and diseased tissue can be blurred.

The pen should help doctors ensure none of the cancer is left behind.

Remove too little tissue, and any remaining cancerous cells will grow into another tumour. But take too much, and you can cause damage, particularly in organs such as the brain.

Livia Eberlin, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Texas, Austin, told the BBC: “What’s exciting about this technology is how clearly it meets a clinical need.

“The tool is elegant and simple and can be in the hands of surgeons in a short time.”

Trials

The technology has been tested on 253 samples as part of the study. The plan is to continue testing to refine the device before trialling it during operations next year.

The pen currently analyses a patch of tissue 1.5mm (0.06in) across, but the researchers have already developed pens that are even more refined and should be able to look at a finer patch of tissue just 0.6mm across.

While the pen itself is cheap, the mass spectrometer is expensive and bulky.

Dr Eberlin said: “The roadblock is the mass spectrometer, for sure.

“We’re visioning a mass spectrometer that’s a little smaller, cheaper and tailored for this application that can be wheeled in and out of rooms.”

Dr James Suliburk, one of the researchers and the head of endocrine surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, said: “Any time we can offer the patient a more precise surgery, a quicker surgery or a safer surgery, that’s something we want to do.

“This technology does all three.”

The MasSpec Pen is the latest attempt to improve the accuracy of surgery.

A team at Imperial College London have developed a knife that “smells” the tissue it cuts to determine whether it is removing cancer.

And a team at Harvard are using lasers to analyse how much of a brain cancer to remove.

Dr Aine McCarthy, from Cancer Research UK, said: “Exciting research like this has the potential to speed up how quickly doctors can determine if a tumour is cancerous or not and learn about its characteristics.

“Gathering this kind of information quickly during surgery could help doctors match the best treatment options for patients sooner.”

Follow James on Twitter.

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Diabetes designs

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If you’re diabetic, checking your blood sugar level is part of the fabric of life. But one designer with the condition went a step further and wove her blood results into the fabric she designs.

Poppy Nash sitting next to her sewing machine amongst her materialsImage copyrightMelanie Hyams

Poppy Nash was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes aged six which meant her body was no longer able to produce insulin.

“It was horrible and scary,” she says, as she recalled the day her GP sent her straight to A&E. “I remember Mum crying in the hospital. That’s when I realised there was something wrong.”

Nash was diagnosed and discharged with a new life-changing routine which revolved around injections and measuring blood-sugar levels multiple times a day, a demanding cycle kept up by her mum for many years until she was old enough to take responsibility for her own health.

When she was hospitalised at 18, after she accidentally injected herself with double the amount of insulin she needed, the true gravitas of the condition hit her.

“That was my wake-up call,” she says. “It was like a second diagnosis and I suddenly realised ‘I’m in charge of this stuff that essentially can kill me’.”

It gave Nash a new outlook when she left home for Glasgow School of Art to study Communication Design where she “pushed” her way into the textiles department to learn how to screen print.

Material designed by Poppy NashImage copyrightMelanie Hyams

Asked to create a body of work on a subject she cared about, Nash says she hit a wall as the “voice” of diabetes became “too loud” and drowned out her creativity.

“I got so stressed out and my diabetes control went badly,” she says. “Diabetes was the thing that made me stop doing my project work so I turned the situation on its head, then it made sense.”

Nash went back to her blood sugar monitor and the ream of data it automatically stores which reveals how her body reacts to life – the good and bad.

She took the numbers, sometimes elaborated on them or added colour, then printed them onto fabric, before she turned that fabric into wearable artwork and felt she was literally weaving her blood into clothes.

“When you do research for a project you have to really believe in what you’re doing and this [diabetes] is the only subject that I really cared about,” she says.

“It makes me weirdly happy because I feel I’m cheating something, but they’re also real numbers and that’s why it’s so scary.”

Poppy Nash sitting amongst her material designsImage copyrightMelanie Hyams

Although Nash loves to focus on her work, she says it can bring on negative thoughts if she dwells on the reality of the figures and the impact the condition can have on her life.

“I was looking at these articles of people dying in their sleep from diabetes and I thought ‘actually I can’t do this’.

When that happens Nash says she has to put her work to one side for the day. She says “it’s scary” but believes the project is ultimately good for her because it makes her confront the reality of what can happen if she doesn’t look after herself.

When she’s being creative in the studio Nash tries to look at her blood sugar levels artistically rather than medically.

The repetitive nature of writing out the numbers can be a “good therapy”, she says, but she has to be careful not to get overwhelmed and focus only on the “bad numbers”.

According to Diabetes UK, healthy blood sugar levels vary between each person but tend to be between four and nine, depending on when they have eaten – some of Nash’s readings, which she has printed on her fabric, reach as high as 18.

Clothing and fabric designed by Poppy NashImage copyrightPoppy Nash

Nash’s latest commission is to design the interior of a house for the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive but she has also started to experiment with text to make sense of the mass of information she is meant to know about the condition.

She has started to collect news articles which reveal the harsh realities of diabetes, and use them to create patchwork quilts.

“I’ll write out a whole article and then cut it up. I’ll use fragments on some patchwork – one is about diabetes burnout – because it’s so impersonal. It’s all about people not choosing a healthy lifestyle. “

Burnout can arise years after a diagnosis when, out of frustration, some people with diabetes get sick of the diet and testing regime and give up or lapse. They may disregard their blood sugar level management or switch back to unhealthy eating habits.

Alongside her own artwork Nash works as a pattern drafter and cutter and recently made costumes for a band.

Poppy Nash's artworkImage copyrightNDACA

Her current focus is on textiles – fabrics, clothing and one-off pieces for exhibitions – but she hopes one day there might be a clothing collection.

“I would love people to wear them,” she says, “They’d be telling the story of diabetes and they wouldn’t even know.”

Nash has had to overcome a lack of confidence in the worth of her artwork and whether it’s relevant to non-diabetics.

“I think about diabetes all the time,” she says. “I worry that if I think I talk about it all the time I feel self-indulgent. But it’s not only diabetics who like it and it opens up conversations.”

Even with the best management, hypos – when blood sugar gets too low – can occur regularly and Nash estimates she has two a week.

“It’s like tripping out,” she says. “You have no idea what’s going on. My boyfriend has been talking to me and I just didn’t understand what he was saying. I could repeat the words, but I didn’t understand them.

Design for the National Disability Arts Collection & Archive commission with a table-setting covered in carbohydrate informationImage copyrightPoppy Nash

“If there was a rulebook on how hypos can be caused it would be longer than Harry Potter,” she says.

Nash will continue to monitor her blood sugar levels indefinitely but it will also continue to provide her with a well of creative possibilities.

“This is a nice platform, because I can turn something so rubbish into something that I like, it makes it kind of amusing.

“Diabetes as a subject can go on and on, so long as people want to listen.”

If you have been affected by anything in this article you can visit Diabetes UK for further information about the condition.

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