Millions of consumers get health information from magazines, TV or the Internet. Some of the information is reliable and up to date; some is not. How can you tell the good from the bad?
First, consider the source. If you use the Web, look for an "about us" page. Check to see who runs the site: Is it a branch of the government, a university, a health organization, a hospital or a business? Focus on quality. Does the site have an editorial board? Is the information reviewed before it is posted? Be skeptical. Things that sound too good to be true often are. You want current, unbiased information based on research.
NIH: National Library of Medicine
What is health literacy?
Health literacy involves the information that people need to be able to make good decisions about health. There are two parts:
Many different factors can affect a person's health literacy, including their:
Many of the same people who are at risk for limited health literacy also have health disparities. Health disparities are health differences between different groups of people. These groups may be based on age, race, gender, or other factors.Why is health literacy important?
Health literacy is important because it can affect your ability to:
One thing that you can do is to make sure that you communicate well with your health care providers. If you don't understand something a provider tells you, ask them to explain it to you so that you understand. You can also ask the provider to write down their instructions.
You've probably seen your chart at your doctor's office. In fact, you may have charts at several doctors' offices. If you've been in the hospital, you have a chart there, too. These charts are your medical records. They may be on paper or electronic. To keep track of all this information, it's a good idea to keep your own personal health record.
What kind of information would you put in a personal health record? You could start with:
Your family history includes health information about you and your close relatives. Families have many factors in common, including their genes, environment, and lifestyle. Looking at these factors can help you figure out whether you have a higher risk for certain health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Having a family member with a disease raises your risk, but it does not mean that you will definitely get it. Knowing that you are at risk gives you a chance to reduce that risk by following a healthier lifestyle and getting tested as needed.
You can get started by talking to your relatives about their health. Draw a family tree and add the health information. Having copies of medical records and death certificates is also helpful.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main sugar found in your blood. It comes from the food you eat, and is your body's main source of energy. Your blood carries glucose to all of your body's cells to use for energy.
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar levels are too high. Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. Even if you don't have diabetes, sometimes you may have problems with blood sugar that is too low or too high. Keeping a regular schedule of eating, activity, and taking any medicines you need can help.
If you do have diabetes, it is very important to keep your blood sugar numbers in your target range. You may need to check your blood sugar several times each day. Your health care provider will also do a blood test called an A1C. It checks your average blood sugar level over the past three months. If your blood sugar is too high, you may need to take medicines and/or follow a special diet.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases