The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Of Facebook and Forums

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THE GOOD 

The internet contains a wealth of medical information. You can google just about anything and find what you are looking for. It is also a place to meet others with the same medical condition and get advice.  You don’t feel so lost and alone when you join support groups and Facebook pages.

THE BAD 

On the flip side, the internet can be a huge source of misinformation and a place to encounter the bullies were they reside.

For example, no blogger or organization can post something related to research and new treatments for diabetes without a flood of the following type of comments:

“That’s not good enough”

“WE WANT A CURE!!!!!”

“Who cares, we won’t be able to afford it anyways”

“It’s just a big conspiracy to make money off their drugs and devices”

“This stuff can kill you!”

The ironic thing is, when a cure comes to pass – it might be a drug, or it might be a vaccine.  Will the same people then be ranting about the cost of the drug, that it’s a conspiracy, or that vaccines will kill you.    From the nature of a lot of comments, you can tell that people commented, often negatively so, without even have read the article/news report.  The comment had no bearing to what the information was even about.  Then there is the ugly.

THE UGLY

zendocrinology and social media good bad uglyOne of the most agregious example of “the ugly”  I have seen in the internet on support group forums was in the comment sections of the facebook page of a popular blog on Hypothyroidism.  A women had  come on to say that she was “run off”  by bullies just because she had commented that she liked her physician and was happy with her therapy by the conventional medicine way.  She was told to go away, that this was a place where people go to to complain about their doctors and complain about their mistreatments.  Negativity was the rule here, no room for someone who had a good experience to report.  I am sure most people with something positive to say were already run off and those still there were so in secret, being afraid to make a comment that was deemed to not be negative enough.  This woman had left her positive experience, not to criticize or devaluate those who were unhappy, but to let others especially newly diagnosed people to know that most likely things were  going to be ok.

What Can You Do? 

The problem with this is that the vocal minority rules. People searching out information are unduly frightened as all there is to read are hyperbolic horror stories. By human nature, there will be less upbeat comments from the happy campers. Happy campers are out there in the world being happy and not taking the time to comment on a blog, forum, or Facebook post. However, their presence is very much needed. Time for the silent majority to not be so silent and help those who are in need of information be able to obtain it in a more balanced and useful manner.




What Will You Do When Disaster Strikes?

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Click on the image to go to the checklist

“Advance preparation is a key defense for chronic disease management during emergencies.”

When you’re dealing with a chronic medical condition like diabetes, diligence and preparation are key.

But when an emergency situation or natural disaster strikes at your home or workplace – whether fires or floods, hurricanes, blizzards or even something like an unexpected auto breakdown – the disruption of a normal routine and limited access to much-needed resources can create chaos.”

Read more at My Diabetes Emergency Plan  

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Before Using Prescription Medication for Diabetic Neuropathy – Try These Supplements

diabetic neuropathy

Clinical studies suggest use of benfotiamine (a specific form of B1) and methylcobalamine (a specific form of B12) with right alpha lipoic acid can reduce neuropathy in as little as 3 weeks… Years of clinical studies have proven that these ingredients work at eliminating unwanted symptoms from nerve pain. In fact, many of the studies conclude that these forms of B vitamins and R-Alpha Lipoic Acid actually reverse neuropathy…

– Read more at DiabeticConnect.com 

R-alpha lipoic acid on Amazon

Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin) and Vitamin B1 (Benfotiamine) on Amazon

Please consult your doctor before undergoing any health treatments or taking new supplements. This post, and all information on this site, is for educational and informational purposes only.*




Going To The Grocery? Making A List Will Help You Make Better Choices.

A-Beginner’s-Shopping-List-e1336389314391Americans are increasingly shopping from places other than grocery stores — like warehouse clubs and convenience stores — and have been purchasing unhealthier foods, according to a new study.

According to Dr. Ichiro Kawachi, chair of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, “The typical supermarket these days is carefully engineered so that they are constantly tempting customers to make impulse purchases and unwise food choices (e.g. placing candies at the checkout.) Having a plan and sticking to it is a good start to pre-committing yourself to a healthy purchase pattern.”

Researchers surveyed more than 1,300 mostly overweight and obese residents in two poor, primarily African American communities and found that shoppers who regularly made grocery lists also made higher quality food choices and had lower body weights.

Grocery store chains consistently had the lowest caloric profiles and had better nutrient densities. Convenience stores had the food with the most sugar — more than 35% of all calories purchased there came from gum and candy — and warehouse clubs had the most sodium.

Sources:
www.medpagetoday.com
www.reuters.com




The Google and Diabetes Connection

google-dexcome-zendocrinology

Technology platform giant GOOGLE, via their Life Sciences division, is using their expertise in electronic miniaturization along with their data collecting/ sharing abilities to team up with Dexcom, makers of a popular Continuous Glucose Monitoring Sensor shown above (CGMS) to make much smaller continuous monitoring device that might be as small as a dime and worn like a bandage like patch. The data collected will be transmitted to a smartphone. The data can undergo analytics to help direct therapy, not only for the individual, but also due to large data collection, might help with care population based.

Google is also working with pharmaceutical company Novartis on the Google Contact Lens that obtains glucose readings through your tears. They have already received the patent on this and it’s in the works.

google-contacts-zendocrinology

Why is Google in on the diabetes monitoring game (besides it being an estimated 17 billion dollar industry)? For one thing, currently the Dexcom as well as the Minimed/Medtronic pump with continuous glucose sensor have iPhone applications available. Though Minimed is working on getting their app on Android, Google being in on it “ground floor” obviously will help promote Android and the Google brand.

Source:  Google Developing Bandage Sized Glucose Monitor 




Double Diabetes – An Increasing Epidemic

From the NY Daily News

From the NY Daily News

As reported on ABC News, there has been a recent brouhaha over an inappropriate tweet made by the CEO of CrossFit and the ensuing Twitter exchange between him and singer/Type 1 diabetes advocate, Nick Jonas, regarding consumption of sugary beverages and developing diabetes. Some people misinterpreted the ensuing exchange as if CrossFit was claiming that sugar causes Type 1 diabetes. (It doesn’t. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas gets attacked by antibodies and can no longer produce insulin.) CrossFit then put up a Facebook post clarifying what they meant, saying their intention was to warn people that drinking sugary beverages can lead to Type 2 diabetes and wanted to help prevent people with Type 1 Diabetes from also developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Once again, CrossFit got pounced on by people misreading what they said and interpreting it as “Type 1 diabetes can ‘turn into’ Type 2 diabetes.” Hold on!  “Can lead to” and “can turn into” are not the same thing.

Can a person with Type 1 diabetes also develop Type 2 diabetes? YES. It is becoming an increasing epidemic and is referred to as “Double Diabetes”.

From the Medscape article listed below:  “It is quite possible to have a patient who develops DM1 due to autoimmune destruction of beta cells who also has the genetic predisposition for insulin resistance. Therefore, if this patient gains weight and becomes more sedentary, insulin resistance and features of the dysmetabolic syndrome could occur.”

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From NY Daily News

Everyday Health has an article on Double Diabetes – published in 2009.  This is not something new.  You can read it here:  The Double Diabetes Epidemic 

While CrossFit’s tweet was uncalled for, and their lack of apology unfortunate – as well as doing a poor job explaining what they meant  – the whole exchange did lead to more awareness of this important topic. Once the brouhaha is over, and the flurry of rants is over on social media, more thoughtful discussion can occur. The diabetes epidemic is real, and the double diabetes epidemic is real.

 

Scholarly articles:




Have Diabetes, Will Travel

Traveling With Diabetes 

Having diabetes should not stop you from doing the things you love, and that includes traveling. Below is a collection of sources on traveling with diabetes:

From Empower Your Health: Travel Check List

To help you pack for your trip, here is a checklist of supplies to take:

  1. Diabetes pills, insulin in vials or pens, or other injectable diabetes medicines
  2. Syringes or insulin pens
  3. Glucose monitoring equipment – glucose meter, lancet device and lancets
  4. Snacks
  5. Diabetes identification – wallet card, necklace and/or bracelet
  6. Emergency supplies – such as quick-acting sugar, like glucose tablets, and ketone test strips. If you use insulin, also bring a glucagon emergency kit.
  7. Other helpful supplies in the event of illness – antinausea, anti-diarrhea medicines such as Compazine®.

For further tips on being prepared for travel, including what to do about insulin pumps and CGMS and a sample travel letter, visit Empower Your Health: Travel Tips for People with Diabetes  

From the American Diabetes Association a printable PDF on the TSA rules and your rights:  Travel and Diabetes Fact Sheet 

Have questions on how to dose your insulin when traveling across time zones?  Good information can be found in this article of Clinical Diabetes: Have Insulin, Will Fly: Diabetes Management During Air Travel and Time Zone Adjustment Strategies




Can Eating This Healthy Breakfast Help Lower Your Risk for Diabetes?

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What’s for breakfast?

Yogurt would be a good choice according to a report in BMC Medicine. Having a 1 cup serving of yogurt a day might decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 18%.

Zendocrinology’s Spin: Yogurt is a staple of the Mediterranean diet which has been shown to have health benefits in the prevention and treatment of diabetes. Inflammation and gut bacteria are hot topics on this subject as well. So we suggest plain low fat greek yogurt with active cultures. Sweeten with stevia or a little honey, sprinkle with ground flax seed, and add a few berries and nuts such as walnuts and pecans. Yum.

BMC Study Details here: http://www.healio.com/endocrinology/diabetes/news/online/%7B911926bd-9a5a-4f16-ae83-4b3104749e62%7D/daily-yogurt-consumption-decreased-risk-for-type-2-diabetes

Mediterranean diet and Diabetes here:
http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20140327/take-heart-mediterranean-diet-combats-diabetes-study-says




Lactose Intolerant and Hypothyroid?

Lactose Intolerant

Are you hypothyroid and have been told your T4 dose requirement is too high?

Lactose intolerance can be one of the reasons you need a higher dose of thyroid replacement than what is typical. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reported that those with lactos intolerance required 1.72 mcg/kg of T4 a day to reach a TSH of about 1.3 versus 1.29 mcg/kg in those without lactose intolerance. Patients with additional GI tract problems required 2.04 mcg/kg a day.

“These findings show that lactose intolerance significantly increased the need for oral T4 in hypothyroid patients.”

Source: “Systematic appraisal of lactose intolerance as cause of increased need for oral thyroxine”
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Aug;99(8):E1454-8. doi: 10.1210/jc.2014-1217. Epub 2014 May 5.




False Hopes and Unwarrented Fears: Ethics in Medical News Reporting

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False Hopes and Unwarranted Fears: Don’t let this get you down.

On a daily basis we are surrounded by sensationalized headlines in the media. Unfortunately this includes medical and health news. Journalists and bloggers need to get your attention in this age of mass media where information is rapidly distributed and then just as rapidly forgotten. A small study that is done on animals, or even just on the cellular level in a petri dish, gets reported as “Hope for a Cure: Insert Disease De Jour.” This spreads like wild fire on the internet causing false hope for many as only a small fraction of early research ends up leading to an actual treatment for human beings.

On the other side, another small study or a poorly designed one, might give an indication that a medical treatment or medicine currently in wide use may have a negative side effect. This also gets reported in a sensational way: “This might kill you…” with very little investigation being given to the story, no real world context, no discussion on the pros and cons of treatment or the risks of the alternatives. People stop taking their medicine based on a sound bite and that might cause more harm.

An example this past year in what we would call “premature hope” was the various reporting on a study regarding a potential vaccine for Type 1 Diabetes. This was a small study done on just 80 people. The research is in the very early stages of the process and even if it pans out to prove to work and be safe it will be years and years, maybe decades before it would be available. Also, the study was just done on people very early on in the disease process. Yet there were headlines such as “A vaccine so you won’t have to take shots!”. In the comment sections of the articles with this type of headline were people asking how soon this will be available and people who had long term diabetes (who from the initial study detail would not qualify most likely for this treatment) stating they were anxiously awaiting the arrival of this vaccine. This same story has been bounced around all over the internet for the past year an a half! If this same study had occurred 10 years ago, few other than those in that field of research would have even heard about it. A more realistic headline was “Type 1 Diabetes Vaccine Shows Promise In Small Trial.”

Take time to study further what you saw in a tweet, read in a news media report, or heard in a TV news lead in. What was their source? What is the medical expertise of the reporter? Does this even relate to me right now? Is this information clinically relevant at this time? And remember, always talk to your medical provider before making any changes with your medications.