Diabetes Blogs

Best Advice IS Medical Advice

Don't give diabetes advice if you aren't a doctorConnecting online with other families who live with the challenges of type 1 diabetes can be a wonderful use of the Internet. Doling out medical advice if you're not a doctor, can cause real harm.

Recently, I read about a mom of a newly-diagnosed child with diabetes sought help online. I found many of the answers most eye-opening and unsettling because online advice swapping is such a common occurrence in the world today.The idea that the way a child may be treated could be different than the way your child is treated was not even approached. Off to the races they all went with what the new mom ‘needed to do’. Really?

The best and most common sense advice any parent can give to a family dealing with the new diagnosis of diabetes is to be educated. Read, learn, listen, ask questions, and work with your medical team. In time if you do not like your medical team, another can be sought, but advising someone not to rely on their doctor—as was the case in what I read—is about as irresponsible as it is, dangerous.

NEVER should one be deterred from following medical advice because ‘another parent’ told you something ‘to the contrary’. Now hear me and do not misunderstand. I encourage checking all things out completely.  YOU make the decisions when it comes to any medical care you are seeking. If you REALLY know what is going on, you become your child’s best advocate; but it does not just come to you...you have to go out and seek this knowledge.

I always get a kick out of the answers I read on a thread when a parent seeks advice. Here's a recent example: “My child is 625, spilling keytones……what should I do?” 

And the answers come:

Have your child run around a lot.”

“Drink plenty of water.”

And my favorite, “Give 4 units of insulin.”  Not insulin, but actually 4 units………………REALLY?!?!?!?!

The first question is and should always be, “What did the doctor say to do?”  To not have, or not suggest, a medical professional get involved in a situation such as this boggles my mind. 

Do any parent a favor…I beg of you...when they ask for medical advice DO NOT PLAY DOCTOR.  Diabetes IS NOT a guessing a game. My child’s diabetes is not your child’s diabetes. Their bodies are different, their metabolism is different, their size is different, and their absorption rate is different.

There are always GREAT tidbits and morsels of wisdom that can be shared. I know the stories of “If I had listened to my doctor, it would have been the wrong thing to do.”  But for an opinion, as a general rule, to trump a doctor’s treatment is playing Russian roulette. If you are unsure, find out. If it seems like a medical emergency, do what you would do under an emergency treatment.

A person around 50 years of age, having chest pains, tingling in the arms and blacking out….no one in their right mind is going to go online and ask, “Hey, what do I?”  They’re going to call 9-1-1.

I’m not saying that an ambulance should be called at the drop of a hat when it comes to diabetes but when a REAL answer is needed….get a member of your medical team involved on the phone. THAT is the first line of defense and DO NOT let anyone else tell you otherwise.

The online involvement is so important and so crucial to so much these days. When someone comes online and rattles off a list of what is happening in their child’s diabetes world seeking medical help, PLEASE make your first question, “Did you reach out to your doctor or a member of your child’s medical team?  What did they say?”  This is always the first and most important question. Guide them in that direction first. 

After that is taken care of, so much else can be done to help but the risk of so much human error is too great in a situation like that to take any chances. Should we really, ever, take that kind of chance in our children’s lives? I don’t think so.

I am a DiabetesDad.

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