Diabetes on the Web

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After sex, health is probably the most popular topic on the World Wide Web. News sites, support groups, newsletters, magazines, blogs, and product promotions compete for our attention. Which sites work for you, and how do you best use the Web for your health?

Blogs are personal sites that reflect the views and lives of the people putting them out. They usually contain links to other sites. A blog called Diabetes Mine has links to dozens of other sites and blogs. Categories containing different types of blog are on the homepage, a few screens down the left-hand side.

Almost 55 personal diabetes blogs are linked, with names like Diabetes Rant, Six Until Me, and Dorkabetic. Most of these are by young people with Type 1.

Diabetes Mine also links to 13 professional diabetes blogs, including ours here at Diabetes Self-Management. Ours is best, in my opinion, but you have choices. Diabetes Mine itself has a lot of interesting articles and discussions on new developments and controversial issues in diabetes.

Diabetes Mine also links to 8 foreign-language diabetes blogs, 36 doctor’s blogs, and 8 sites for teens with diabetes, among others. I’m pretty sure this list of blogs is far from exhaustive. I have been amazed reading some of the personal diabetes blogs. People living with diabetes (like our Jan and Eric) really do have the deepest understanding of it.

You might consider writing your own blog. It’s free at sites like Blogger. You won’t have any deadlines or editors breathing down your neck (not that ours ever do.) Just write when you want to say something.

Informational Gold Mines
The best diabetes information sites include Diabetes Self-Management, DiabetesHealth, the very scientific Diabetes in Control, the American Diabetes Association’s Web site, the government’s National Diabetes Information Clearing House, WebMD’s Diabetes Health Center, and eMedicineHealth (a component of WebMD).

There are also general health sites that I use all the time. WebMD is one of the most popular and has a wide range of content. As I’ve noted before, some of it is not always right. They tend to rely on accepted wisdom too much, but generally it’s excellent.

Personally, I like Mayo Clinic, the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus, and Health.

You can also use the Web to research alternative medicine approaches. Here is one place to start.

Support Groups and Social Networks
I’m a big fan of knowing other people with diabetes and sharing with them in person. But sometimes you can’t, or you’d rather not. You can always reach people online though. There are dozens of online support groups.

I like the Type 2 group at DailyStrength. Their Type 1 group is just as good, in my opinion. I also like TuDiabetes, which is more than a support group. It’s a social networking site, where you can meet people and form relationships.

Your Doctor and Your Web Site
Suppose you find some good information on a Web site, and you want your doctor to help you act on it. What do you do? According to Naomi Miller, manager of consumer health information for the National Library of Medicine, you don’t want to overwhelm your doctor with data. “Summarize the information you want to discuss in a few short sentences or bullet points,” she says. “And only share information from reliable Web sites,” such as the ones I’ve listed.

You also don’t want to jump on a piece of information from one site and assume it’s true. Check with other sources and see what they say.

Miller says, “Don’t rely on just one [site]… if you go to a number of sites, do they all say the same thing, or is this the only one that’s saying ‘This is our miracle cure’?”

These quotes come from this good article in Newsweek magazine on using the Web for health information.

You might also ask your doctor what she thinks of a particular site or information, especially if you can e-mail her a message with a link. Discussing Web sites in an appointment is probably not the best use of your time.

So, what have been your experiences? What Web pages have worked for you, and how do you find them? Have you been steered wrong by information you found on the Web? What are some tips for searching and finding what you need? How can we gain the benefits and avoid the pitfalls of Web health info?

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