Diabetes Help Online

Yvona Fast

The amount of online information on diabetes is staggering. The search engines Google and AltaVista each brought up thousands of entries. More than 500 Web sites are devoted to the subject. Research is ongoing. New products for diabetics appear almost daily. How does one keep up with the explosive expansion of cyberspace?

My research led me to Rick Mendosa, a technical writer specializing in diabetes. The results of his research, “Online Resources for Diabetics,” can be found at his site, www.mendosa.com. His review column can be found on the American Diabetes Association site at www.diabetes.org/internetresources.asp. Here are some sites to get you started.

American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org): The cyberhome of a principle organization concerned with diabetes. The Diabetes Information section at the top of the page boldly proclaims: “Everything you need to know, from nutrition to exercise to who’s at risk for diabetes, can be found here.” This claim isn’t unfounded; this large Web site has lots of information, including the latest research and newest products. There are fact sheets on all aspects of diabetes and selected articles from Diabetes Forecast. Diabetes in the News highlights current news articles. You can even take an interactive diabetes risk test.

Other sections include information on nutrition, exercise, and what to do if you’ve been recently diagnosed. The research section includes a list of specialized programs. There’s a segment for medical professionals, a list of diabetic journals, an online store, and an advocacy piece with legislative news of interest to people with diabetes, including state-by-state reports.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (www.niddk.nih.gov): At first glance this site looks like a list of about 30 documents. That is because since its creation in 1994 the site has kept its design simple and content-focused. There’s no attempt to entertain. There’s little flashy, glitzy artwork. This assures that the site loads quickly, making its vast store of information easily accessible.

Because it is part of the federal government, the site is completely noncommercial. The organization’s purpose is biomedical research; the solid, scientific information is a by-product. One of 17 institutes included in the National Institutes of Health, NIDDK is the main source of information about medical studies, clinical trials, new products, and education programs.

For students doing research on diabetes the 733-page report Diabetes in America is a comprehensive resource. For someone who’s just been diagnosed, “Do Your Level Best” is an excellent place to begin learning about the condition.

CDC Diabetes Publish Health Resource (www.cdc.gov/diabetes): This is another great site. Sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. The site provides reliable scientific data in nontechnical terms. FAQs, Diabetes at a Glance, and Fact Sheets offer fast answers to common questions. Many of these are also available in Spanish.

There’s also an abundance of statistical information, including the CDC Statistical Analysis page and separate pages on each state’s diabetes control programs.

Joslin Diabetes Center of Harvard (www.joslin.harvard.edu/index.html): There you’ll find Diabetes News, Research Info, an Education Center, and information on managing diabetes. The Education Center includes an extensive online library, courses, and discussion groups. Managing Diabetes offers “a full range of self-management training information on nutrition, blood-sugar monitoring, and more.” There are programs for patients, discussion groups, and even camps for children.

Ask NOAH About: Diabetes (www.noah.cuny.edu/diabetes/diabetes.html): Look here for detailed information about diabetes in English and Spanish. Its articles, organized by topic, are pulled from other sites, such as Joslin, NDDIK, American Diabetes Association, and Canadian Diabetes Association. This makes it an excellent “gateway” leading to numerous resources on all aspects of diabetes.

Insulin-Free.org (www.Insulin-Free.org): It’s a comprehensive and current source of high-quality information about technologies and research at the forefront of curing diabetes. The site includes news and information about the world’s pancreas and islet transplant programs, immunology, cell replication and engineering, insurance, awareness campaigns, and much more.

Diabetes Station (www.diabetesstation.org): This sister site to Insulin-Free.org is the Web’s biggest diabetic talk show with the most active chat schedule. There are informal discussions about living with diabetes, as well as interviews with experts in the field.

There are many other Web Communities with chat rooms and message boards. Children With Diabetes (www.childrenwithdiabetes.com/chat) has 12 regular chat rooms and two side rooms. The rooms for parents and for teens are the most active. Diabetes Community (www.diabetesvoicechat.com) offers the first voice chat for people with diabetes. You can use either voice or text chat (or both) to chat with a group in a public room or with one or more of your friends in a private room. A search using “chat rooms” and “diabetes” will produce a long list of sites.

A couple of popular commercial sites follow:
Diabetes 123 (www.diabetes123.com) and Children With Diabetes are sister sites. Five years ago Jeff Hitchcock, whose daughter was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 2, started the Children With Diabetes Web site. With more than 7,000 pages (including more than 5,000 questions and answers) and 2.8 million hits just last May, it is now one of the biggest and most valued diabetes sites on the Web. Included is a notable book of the week and Living With Diabetes, short biographies of diabetics. While Children With Diabetes will continue to focus on parents and children, Jeff’s new site, Diabetes 123, has wider appeal for all people with diabetes.

DiabetesWebSite (www.diabeteswebsite.com) is one of several chronic disease communities developed by PattenRx. It is a user-friendly and reliable source of information for all things diabetic. The site features two prominent authors in the field of diabetes, June Biermann and Barbara Toohey. Humor and personal anecdotes create a positive, cheerful atmosphere, while sophisticated software works in the background to personalize and summarize the content. Once a visitor registers with the site, the technology keeps track of his or her interests–news, lifestyle, recipes, etc.–and alerts them when these sections are updated.

Although its commercial aspects are cleverly disguised, the site makes money through the sale of diabetic products, the sale of information about the diabetic population, and on-site “info-tizing” infomercials.

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