Both of my sons successfully work in the field of technology and computers. It’s hard to visit with them and not ask a technology type question. Similarly, when people find out I’m a diabetes care and education specialist, it’s not uncommon for someone to ask a health related question.
I don’t mind answering questions that are appropriate for me to answer. Over the years I have learned that more important than answering a question, is helping the individual learn “how” and “where” to find answers they may seek in the future.
The best person(s) to ask health care questions are the health care providers that know your medical history. These include:
- Your personal health care provider (doctor, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, advance practice nurse);
- Members of your personal health care team, e.g., diabetes care and education specialist(s), your pharmacist, dietitian, etc.; and/or
- Your specific medication’s manufacturer. Manufacturers are required to provide “patient information” about their product with contact information for additional questions.
Occasionally there’s the person who doesn’t really have a question but rather is seeking more information. As a diabetes care and education specialist, my response usually begins with the American Diabetes Association.
American Diabetes Association
The American Diabetes Association or ADA is considered one of the premiere resources of information and support for those living with diabetes. Although membership is encouraged and helps to fund the activities of the organization, there is a lot of information available for free on their website. The following represents some of the available topics found on the left side of the ADA’s diabetes.org landing page.
Diabetes. This hyperlink includes how people get diabetes, the different types of diabetes, lab tests that evaluate diabetes management, and more. Topics include:
- Understanding A1c.
- Type 1 diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes.
- Newly diagnosed with diabetes.
- How to find a diabetes education program.
- Chronic Kidney Disease.
- Eye health.
Know Your Risk. No one wants to be diagnosed with diabetes. If you’ve been told you have an elevated risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, this hyperlink may be of interest to you. It includes:
- Tools to know your risk.
Take Our Risk Test. This goes hand-in-hand with the above link. Take the test; know the score. Find out if you’re at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes with an online 60-second test. Knowing is step one of prevention.
Healthy Living. Managing diabetes includes more than simply taking prescribed medication. Diabetes is a “self-managed” condition requiring the person living with diabetes to make choices every day. This link helps make healthy choices by answering some of the more common questions asked while living with diabetes.
- Recipes & nutrition
- Weight loss
- Mental health
- Medication & treatments
- Devices & technology
- Loved ones & caregivers
Resources. There’s a lot of information out there. Check out the ADA’s blogs on diabetes-related topics, insurance updates, support for the school environment, diabetes and heart, and more with this link.
Community. Find out what’s happening in your community here. Camp for children living with diabetes and other events can begin by finding your local office. This link gets you there!
Advocacy. Many of the issues people living with diabetes face are policy-based. Advocacy gives national and local issues a voice. While organizations and health care providers can meet with legislative officials, no one’s voice is louder than that of the person actually living with diabetes. I encourage you to get involved.
Additionally, the ADA’s landing page provides easy access to one of my favorite affiliated sites:
Diabetes Food Hub. If the nutrition side of diabetes management is challenging, this site will help with recipes based on the personal preferences and dislikes you enter.
Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists
The Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES) is a non-profit membership organization for health care professionals providing diabetes self-management education and support. While the organization’s primary focus is its membership, it also offers resources free to persons at risk or living with diabetes. Visitors to the ADCES landing page, diabeteseducator.org, have access to the organization’s Living with Diabetes tab with the following resources:
- Tools and resources. Included under this tab is the ADCES7 Self-Care Behaviors to manage diabetes. Healthy coping, healthy eating, being active, taking medication, monitoring, problem solving, and reducing risks are behaviors for whatever chronic condition you may have, to improve your management.
- Peer support.
- How a diabetes care and education specialist can help you.
- Been referred. What’s next?
- Find a diabetes education program.
- Spanish language resources.
- Disaster preparedness.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Most of my patients struggle with meal planning and healthy food preparation. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a non-profit membership organization for nutrition professionals. In addition to supporting its membership, it also supports the web presence eatright.org (Best web address ever!). This landing page provides links to food, health, and fitness, it’s important to remember that this website is not diabetes-related information only. Nutrition is about everything you do and this website strives to support that and/or help you find a nutrition expert, if necessary.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Lastly there is the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at niddk.nih.gov. Under the acronym NIDDK, this organization provides information on the following health topics:
- Digestive diseases
- Kidney disease
- Weight management
- Liver disease
- Urologic diseases
- Endocrine diseases
- Diet & nutrition
- Health professional patient resources (Free clinical tools for patient management. Available in Spanish also!)
There are a number of credible and excellent patient education resources — it would be difficult to identify them all. Consider your health care team as your starting point. Don’t hesitate to share what you have found and get your health care team’s input.
People tend to be inquisitive by nature and will tend to ask questions about their health. I think that’s a good thing. The one answer that never changes: Always check with your health care provider before making any changes to your medical plan of care.