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The Pharmacist Answers Podcast

Have a question for the pharmacist? Get your answers here! Clear explanations about complicated medical topics that anyone can understand. Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog and related podcast are not to be taken as medical advice, they are for informational and educational purposes only. If you resemble anything that is mentioned in this blog or related podcast, contact your doctor. The information contained in this blog and related podcasts is the opinion of the author and does not relfect the views of her employer, Walgreens. If you want to know what Walgreens thinks, ask Walgreens!
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Now displaying: December, 2016
Dec 12, 2016

Episode 73 - Sugar for Brain

Sugar in your blood = glucose
Your body prefers glucose over any other sugar out there.

-ose = sugar suffix

GlucOSE
FructOSE - fruit sugar
SucrOSE - table sugar
SucralOSE - Splenda

Your body can turn any of these other sugars in to glucose.  It can actually turn other carbohydrates, and even non-sugar molecules into glucose if it really needs to.  This all happens in your liver...

If you were in a long-term starvation or malnutrition situation, your body would circulate non-glucose energy sources to try to get energy, since the process of making glucose can be relatively slow.  This is because your body would prefer to live than die.

The brain is a picky eater, and refuses to utilize non-glucose sources of energy.  This is because your brain works A LOT!  And it doesn't have time to use inefficient sources of energy.  Therefore, it will hog the glucose from the rest of your body.

Your skeletal muscles use glucose to do work.  This is why people with diabetes have to be extra cautious when they exercise.

Extra glucose gets saved for those times when you're not eating.  It gets put in a really long chain called glycogen.  But getting the glucose back from the glycogen can be relatively slow.

Recovering from an episode of low blood sugar takes time and requires rest (so you're not burning through the fuel as fast as you replenish it).  But it can also be emotionally stressful because you may be required to eat "unhealthy" amounts of sugary or carb-heavy foods to get back to normal.

Glucose has a very complex metabolism cycle - the Krebs cycle.
One intermediate is glucose-6-phosphate (G6P) - there is a genetic mutation where a protein for this step doesn't do it's job very well.  If this step gets delayed or clogged up, then there is a detour metabolism step that leads to triglyceride production, when then leads to fat storage.  *womp womp*  (note: triglycerides are useful in the right amounts for cell repair)  This is also why eating large amounts of sugary plus fatty foods can lead to quick weight gain.
The end result of this cycle is Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).  It is super energetic when a phosphate piece is removed.  It's like the body's dynamite.  This is how a sugar high works - all the sugar leads to all the dynamite exploding at once, but then it takes a while for it to get replenished, and that's why you crash after a sugar-high.

To immediately recover from low blood sugar, you need simple sugar (orange juice, regular soda, sugar-full hard candy, glucose tabs or paste or gel).  To continue to recover, you need carbs plus something that will help it not absorb so fast (i.e. protein, healthy fats).

If you ever look at the underside of your tongue, you can see the blood vessels really clearly because they're really close to the surface.  So if someone is unconscious due to low blood sugar, you can use a glucose tablet or gel under their tongue and it will absorb into the blood stream.  This is also how you can absorb sugar quickly from sugar-full gum.

Low blood sugar can lead to emotional fluctuations (aka crabby and grouchy) and short-term memory loss (and not just because you passed out).

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"Radio Martini" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Dec 5, 2016

Brain lesion = a group of brain cells that look different from surrounding cells on a brain scan

Dark lesions - an area where the brain cells are missing or an area where signal is not firing (damaged cells)
Light lesions - an area where the signals are firing at the wrong times (like a shorted out wire). Seizure - when the brain fires the electricity at the wrong time.

A lesion in the Parietal lobe could affect how the body translates sensations (i.e. pain).  These lesions are usually caused by injury or stroke.

If there is a lesion in the optical lobe of the brain (the area that "sees" what your eyes are looking at), then the signals from the eyes may not come through, and therefore the parietal cannot help map what you were looking at once it's not there anymore.

Sensory seizures - feeling things on you or touching you that aren't really there. (unsure if this is related to the auras that come before migraines).  No medication necessary.

Extinction phenomenon:  thinking that a sensation stopped before it really did.  You body can't translate two messages of the same type at the same time.  Like when you try to locate the same place on each side of your body (i.e. making pigtails even).

Dyslexia:  can be related to written language, spoken language, or any other message being translated as language

Dysphasia or Aphasia:  mixed up or missing words

Dyscalculia:  it's hard to math.  Difficulty estimating distances, spacial mapping, and time passage.  Dana White of A Slob Comes Clean talks about TPAD (Time Passage Awareness Disorder)

Apraxia:  unable plan what you want your body to do in order to make your body do it.  The deeper the path the more "natural"  the action is.
Muscle memory is just an extremely well-developed motor path, so that you can even not do that action for a while, and when you do it again, you don't have to "relearn" it.
If this is caused by a stroke, therapy can help try and re-route the information.
Apraxia can affect gross motor movements (large movements with your body) - aka global apraxia, or it can affect speech motor planning.

Gerstmann Syndrome: no motor path to write, or math, or to feel and use your fingers as separate digits.  Also involves a left-right mix up.  In adults, it's the results of a stroke.  In kids, they have not a clue.  Therapy can help kids get past the motor issues, but not the mathing issues.

Constructional apraxia:  know how blocks should fit together, but the brain can't make their body build it.
Dressing apraxia: know how clothes should be worn and where it goes, but the brain can't make the body dress itself.  This shows up in dementia and Alzheimer's a lot. 

Amorphosynthesis - your brain is not aware of some part of your body.  Usually a symptom after as stroke.
Another symptom of a stroke is when a person is unaware of one-half of their visual field.  So they will only write on one half of the paper (the half they can see) or read only one half of the page of a book.

Anosognosia - a person is not aware that they have a disorder, disease, or disability.   This is not just denial.  The area of their brain that would recognize "I'm sick" or "I'm hurt" doesn't work.

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"Radio Martini" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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