PATTAYA, Thailand – The Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC) often has health professionals provide information for its membership and other Expats. At their Wednesday, November 29, meeting, they welcomed two doctors from Bangkok Hospital Pattaya. Dr. Borwonkhun Tontivuthikul, MD, from the Endocrine & Diabetes Center spoke on the topic “What you need to know: Diabetes mellitus.” He was followed by Dr. Ploykarn Kiatiwat, MD, from the Internal Medicine Center who gave advice on getting “Adult Vaccines.”
Dr Borwonkhun was first up. He noted that diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is higher than usual. He noted there are three types of diabetes, Type 1 is when the pancreas does not produce insulin and Type 2 is when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. The third, Gestational diabetes is ineffective insulin during pregnancy. Type 2 is the most common (90-95%). It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in older adults.
He then described the symptoms: Urinate (pee) a lot, often at night; Are very thirsty; Lose weight without trying; Are very hungry; Have blurry vision; Have numb or tingling hands or feet; Feel very tired; Have very dry skin; Have sores that heal slowly; and Have more infections than usual. He followed by noting the blood tests used to diagnose diabetes: Fasting Blood Sugar (fasting for 8-12 hours before), Hemoglogin A1C, and Oral Glucose Tolerance. He described the measurements under each which indicate normal, pre-diabetic, and diabetic.
Dr. Borwonkhun then explained why diabetes is a serious illness. Too high blood sugar levels, over time, can lead or contribute to Cerebrovascular Disease, Permanent Kidney Damage, Diabetic Foot Infections, Peripheral Neuropathy (nerve damage), Retinopathy (eye damage), and Blindness. He also described the ways to monitor blood sugar levels including self-monitoring and periodic blood tests.
There are several methods of treatment for diabetes which include lifestyle changes and medication. Lifestyle changes include following a controlled healthy diet (avoiding foods that elevate sugar levels), exercising and maintaining a healthy body weight, reducing stress, and getting adequate sleep. There are several medicines that can help to reduce blood sugar levels with many more in the pipeline.
Dr. Ploykarn then proceeded with her presentation on “Vaccines for the Elderly, What you need to know.” She began by explaining why the elderly should be vaccinated pointing out that preventive medicine is the most effective and feasible strategy to protect health in older persons. Further, that vaccination against the most common infectious diseases is the most indicated approach. This is because as severity and incidence of infection increase with age, the elderly are a particularly important target population for vaccination. This is the result of a progressive decline in immune function with increasing age.
Vaccination is effective to protect the elderly by preventing infection and risk of severe disease or death. Further, through herd immunity, it helps to reduce transmission. She presented several graphic slides while explaining the process that the development of vaccines go through to ensure they are safe to use.
She followed this with several slides showing the recommended vaccines for the elderly including Covid-19 at the top of the list followed by the annual influenza and Pneumococcal vaccinations. Also recommended was the Zoster (Shingles) vaccine noting there are now two types available (Zoster vaccine live; ZVL and Recombinant zoster vaccine; RZV). ZVL is for age over 60 with an efficacy 38-70%. RSV is for age over 50 or under 18 with an efficacy 91-97% after 10 years 89%.
After the presentations and Lucky Draw, MC Ren Lexander brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and conducted the Open Forum portion of the meeting where the audience can ask questions or make comments about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya. To learn more about the PCEC, visit their website at https:/pcec.club. To view the presentation videos, visit the PCEC’s YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJbWnHE6S-g for Dr. Borwonkhun and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG4y32KBanc for Dr. Ploykarn.