With the inception of the World Wide Web in the 90s, our lives have changed dramatically. We live in a true information age and the 21st century innovations of mobile accessibility have given us access to the internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
People use the internet to get their news, connect with friends and family, and learn new things. This is especially true when it comes to patients dealing with medical conditions. Long gone is the era where patients were largely in the dark about their conditions and treatments. While online medical information can be used inappropriately causing self-diagnoses and more occurrences of hypochondria, it can also help people stay informed on the latest news, technology, and innovations in treatments.
Patients with diabetes can use the internet in a number of ways to help them understand their risks, maintain their health, and learn about symptoms or new treatments. This can allow them to be better prepared and informed when seeking medical care.
Medical websites are typically those run by larger organizations or government agencies to provide the most up to date medical news and information about conditions. The two most popular websites for medical research on the web are:
- The Mayo Clinic: This non-profit leader in medical care around the world has major campuses in Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida and clinics all over the country. It has been considered one of the top facilities for medicine for decades and is frequently at the cutting edge of research. The Mayo Clinic puts patients first and provides the best medical treatments and testing possible. The clinic developed their website to be an evolving resource for patients and doctors. Their information on diabetes is comprehensive, based on the most current research available and is always improving as they add new research.
- WebMD: This site was developed to provide medical information to the public by partnering with medical professionals and journalists. Board certified physicians are screened and vetted before they begin contributing to the site. WebMD offers interactive pages, the latest news, and community forums. Their mission is to provide users with information on health concerns, health research, and connections with others who have shared experiences. Diabetes patients can use WebMD to learn related news, connect with others, and become more informed about their condition.
Social media support groups
Social media has changed the way we communicate as a culture. Communities are no longer restricted by location. People from all over the world can discuss diabetes and other issues on these online forums. Some of the most popular social media sites include:
- Facebook: Currently one of the most popular social media groups, Facebook has the ability to connect people with diabetes from around the world. The power of community can’t be denied and knowing that others have similar experiences can be powerful medicine. Individuals can learn about treatments and how they have worked for others who have tried them. Pages like Diabetes Support and Diabetes Daily can provide news and daily boosts. Groups, many of which are closed and private, can facilitate conversations.
- Pinterest: While you may not think about Pinterest when it comes to diabetes, this visual site can be a great resource. Pinterest is still the fastest growing social media site today. Diabetic Living has a presence and there are countless other pin boards that feature ideas for healthy living and choices that can make living with diabetes a little easier.
- Twitter: Individuals with diabetes are making their experience public by sharing their stories 140 characters at a time. Diabetes patients can also follow organizations such as the American Diabetes Foundation and the Diabetes Hands Foundation to get up-to-date news right on your smart phone.
The blogging boom started about a decade ago and anyone who has something to say on a subject is willing to start a blog on it. You can find professional blogs, hobby blogs, and interest blogs based on anything you can imagine. For diabetes related content, there are blogs written by patients and doctors, both of which can provide support and information.
Some can’t-miss blogs are:
- Six Until Me: The project of Kerri Sparling this blog is about her own experience with type 1 diabetes. Kerri was diagnosed in the 80s and started the blog in 2005 to give a voice to people with the disease on the internet.
- Diabetes Mine: This site is less personal and more news oriented and provides readers access to the most important news regarding this disease. It covers advocacy, research, and life with diabetes in a fun and informative way. The founder and editor Amy Tenderich is also a type 1 diabetes patient and wanted to make information accessible.
- Insulin Nation: This blog provides details about insulin and all the available technology distilled in an understandable and readable way. Their mission is to bring information about diabetes treatments to everyone living with the disease.
- A Sweet Life: Couple Mike and Jessica were both diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and decided to create a resource for others coping with this disease. Their main focus is on creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle so that diabetes control will be satisfying. The site features news as well as first-hand stories from contributors.
- Diabetes Stories: Created by Riva Greenberg, this website is intended to share real life stories of patients living both types of the disease. The mission is to provide resources and personal stories to show people how to thrive with a diagnosis of diabetes.
The internet allows people to stay informed and connected in a way never before seen in human history. Access to websites and social media through mobile devices provides near constant access to information. The key is to make sure to disseminate the good from bad information and using reliable resources like those listed here is one way to ensure that diabetes patients get the best information possible.
What medical websites, social media accounts, and blogs do you go to for diabetes information, stories, or connections?
Image by photosteve101 via Flickr