Have high-ish blood sugar?
You may be on your own to figure out what to do; unless there’s an actual diagnosis of diabetes, insurers may not offer extensive professional counseling. One self-help strategy is to read online to learn about lowering blood sugar.
How do you know what information to trust? Type “high blood sugar” into a search engine and in seconds, many articles will appear. Some will contain valuable, reliable information while other articles will be based on opinion and conjecture. Knowing how to tell the difference between the two is important!
Here are some suggestions, based on recommendations from the National Institutes of Health, talking to other professionals who have conducted research and from my past experience as a medical writer.
In general, focus on articles from websites that end in .gov (produced by a federal agency,) .edu (a site hosted by a university or college,) or an .org (hosted by a nonprofit organization.) These sources are more likely to be unbiased than a commercial site that may have vested interests in promoting a product or service. Medical reporters often rely on articles found on PubMed, which is part of the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Health.
- If an article is based on research published in a peer- viewed journal, it’s well worth considering. In order to get published in this type of journal, considered an honor, researchers must submit their work to a review committee comprised of other experts in the same field. Peer- reviewed journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association, are used by physicians.
- Know the difference between an article based on anecdotal information – personal stories – and one based on scientific research. Anecdotes can be very interesting – but one person’s experience is just one person’s experience; your mileage may vary.
- In an article based on a medical study, always check to find out who funded the study, to determine whether the researchers could have even an unconscious bias in how they conducted the study.
- Don’t get too excited about the results of one study. Some studies are better constructed than others. Look for the keywords randomized, double- blind study. That is considered the gold standard of type of research studies. In a randomized, double- blind study on a blood sugar medication, for example, researchers and subjects would not know which subjects are getting which medication. And don’t get too excited if a study was based on participants’ recollections of their past behaviors; people can forget things.
- Go ahead and get excited, however, if you read an article that contains the words meta analysis in the title. A meta analysis means that a researcher has analyzed the results of many studies on the same topic.
Before making any substantive changes based on a website’s information, you know the drill: Run the information by your health care professional. Some medical practices now offer patients the ability to email their physician; if you choose to do this, provide a direct link to the article in the email, rather than a summary.