12 posts from January, 2013

A Study by Northwestern University School of Medicine Links Psoriasis to Obesity in Children

Posted January 29th, 2013 by

It’s no secret that being overweight comes with health risks like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke and heart attack. After a new study, researchers from Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago are closer to adding psoriasis to the list. However, the study did not conclude if psoriasis influences obesity or visa versa. It’s still a bit like asking, ‘What came first, the chicken or the egg?’ Here are the facts of the study:

  • 409 children with psoriasis (ages 5-17) from nine countries participated
  • Children with psoriasis were twice as likely to be overweight
  • Obesity risk for children increased despite their psoriasis being mild or severe

screen-shot-2013-01-29-at-115136-am

According to Dr. Amy S. Paller, Chair of Dermatology at Northwestern Medicine, “one-third of all psoriasis cases start in childhood.” If there is a metabolic link between the two conditions, having a healthy lifestyle earlier on could prove important to managing not only weight and cardiovascular health, but psoriasis as well.

What are your thoughts on this? Add your voice to the forum thread that your Community Moderator Molly started.  Join the conversation.

You can find the entire text of the study here.


PatientsLikeMe’s Jamie Heywood Talks with INSEAD Knowledge

Posted January 28th, 2013 by

“That’s why we built PatientsLikeMe, to lower the cost of discovering new treatments and to measure and understand disease. Together, this community can help reduce the time to determine what works.”
Jamie Heywood

While attending the 2012 INSEAD Healthcare Alumni Summit in London last fall, PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood sat down with INSEAD Knowledge’s Editor-in-Chief Shellie Karabell to discuss PatientsLikeMe’s model and mission.  What role does Jamie see PatientsLikeMe playing in the healthcare system?  Why does he feel we are a social networking site only in the secondary sense?  How does privacy factor in to how we collect and share data?  Find out that and much more in this insightful interview and accompanying article.


Coping with Changes in Physical Appearance

Posted January 24th, 2013 by

When you are diagnosed with a life-changing illness, your doctor may prepare you for how the disease will affect your physical functions.  But as our members point out, patients also need to be prepared for the changes in physical appearance they may experience.  For example, how do you deal with hair loss, facial swelling, weight gain, blotchy skin or other unexpected changes?  Or get comfortable with the use of new equipment such as leg braces, walkers or wheelchairs that may attract attention?  Most importantly, what can you do to still feel beautiful?

A cute hat can help to cover thinning hair or bald spots.  Image courtesy of Stock Free Images.

Here are some suggestions from members of our PatientsLikeMe Forum, where patients with different conditions come together to discuss universal issues:

  • Using attractive scarves or hats to cover thinning hair or bald spots
  • Experimenting with different cosmetics to see what works best
  • Treating yourself to a spa manicure and pedicure as a pick-me-up
  • Trying out different explanations for your new brace/walker/wheelchair when asked to see what feels right and what produces the most acceptable responses
  • Soaking in a scented Epsom salt bath to ease pain and relax
  • Consulting with a hair stylist about better styles for thinning hair
  • Using gentle, non-drying facial cleansers and lotions
  • Switching to an electric razor to improve ease and safety
  • Donating your hair to Locks of Love to put a feel-good spin on it

Have you discovered other tricks to help you deal with a changing appearance?  Join this ongoing discussion in our forum or share your experiences in the comments section.


New Efforts Underway to Improve Care for Veterans

Posted January 22nd, 2013 by

With financial support from UCB, the Department of Veterans Affairs and PatientsLikeMe will study patient-reported outcomes.

Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Epilepsy Centers of Excellence (ECoE), biopharmaceutical company UCB and health data-sharing website PatientsLikeMe announce a new study to better understand what factors improve health outcomes for veterans with epilepsy.  The ECoE has recently completed a pilot study focused on collecting and sharing real world, patient-reported data on seizure frequency and severity, treatment adherence, patient and physician dialogue and overall quality of life. The study is now open and available to all veterans living with epilepsy at www.poemstudy.org.

“This collaborative effort, with partners from government and private industry, provides an exciting opportunity to improve the outcomes of the thousands of veterans with epilepsy. Our work together may also deliver insights into how we can improve the care for anyone with epilepsy,” says study lead and ECoE’s John Hixson , M.D.

As part of their initial partnership to help epilepsy patients, which began in 2010, PatientsLikeMe and UCB conducted a study of members of the PatientsLikeMe epilepsy community that showed that people with epilepsy who joined PatientsLikeMe better understood their own seizures and improved adherence to their medications.1,2 The new study of veterans will integrate validated clinical outcome measures alongside the patient-reported benefits of the online PatientsLikeMe community. The community platform allows patients to update their physician on aspects of their epilepsy, such as changes in symptoms and medication side effects, and enables physicians to view this patient data prior to clinic visits. The goal is to provide a complementary support system that enhances clinic visits and improves patient outcomes.

UCB, a leader in epilepsy, is providing the funding for the study. “We are committed to improving the standard of care for people living with epilepsy. We believe that this collaboration will address some of the unique challenges faced by veterans impacted by epilepsy and will be a model for other providers of care,” says Patty Fritz , Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Operations at UCB.

According to the ECoE, approximately 5.6 million veterans visit VA Medical Centers each year, and approximately 66,000 of these veterans are diagnosed with seizures or epilepsy. Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder defined as two or more unprovoked seizures.3

Adds Jamie Heywood , co-founder and chairman of PatientsLikeMe, “This is a great opportunity to validate our earlier findings, which revealed that epilepsy patients using our website reduced side effects, increased compliance and reduced ER visits. Our partnership further demonstrates how committed UCB and the VA are to advancing innovation in health care. Collaborations like this will build the foundation for a patient-centric future in medicine.”

References
1. Wicks, P., Keininger, D. L., Massagli, M. P., de la Loge, C., Brownstein, C., Isojarvi, J., & Heywood, J. (2011). Perceived benefits of sharing health data between people with epilepsy on an online platform. Epilepsy & Behavior.
2. De la Loge, C., Massagli, M., Wicks, P. PatientsLikeMe®, a data-sharing online community: benefits for patients with epilepsy. Presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (April 9-16 2011), Honolulu, USA.
3. Epilepsy Foundation. About Epilepsy. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/. Accessed 9/13/12

About PatientsLikeMe
PatientsLikeMe® (www.patientslikeme.com) is the world’s leading online health data sharing platform. PatientsLikeMe® creates new knowledge by charting the real-world course of disease through the shared experiences of patients. While patients interact to help improve their outcomes, the data they provide helps researchers learn how these diseases act in the real world and accelerate the discovery of new, more effective treatments. [Follow company news on Twitter.com/PatientsLikeMe and http://blog.patientslikeme.com]

About ECoE
The VA has funded the Epilepsy Centers of Excellence (http://www.epilepsy.va.gov/). The Centers of Excellence are charged with: (1) establishing a national system of care to all veterans with epilepsy, (2) educating veterans and others in their lives impacted by epilepsy about high quality epilepsy care, (3) providing health professional education and training in order to deliver the highest quality of standard of care to veterans with epilepsy, (4) utilizing national VA and other databases in order to inform providers and policy makers in Central Office about health care delivery and health policy decisions, (5) conducting state-of-the-art research about epilepsy, and (6) implementing an informatics backbone to meet the above objectives.

About UCB
UCB, Brussels, Belgium (www.ucb.com) is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines and solutions to transform the lives of people living with severe diseases of the immune system or of the central nervous system. With more than 8,500 people in about 40 countries, the company generated revenue of EUR 3.2 billion in 2011. UCB is listed on Euronext Brussels (symbol: UCB).



Psoriasis, Adherence and More: An Interview with Dermatologist Dr. Steve Feldman

Posted January 18th, 2013 by

Dr. Steve Feldman, MD, PhD

Dr. Steve Feldman, MD, PhD, is Professor of Dermatology, Pathology & Public Health Sciences at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. The author of more than 500 peer-reviewed medical articles, Dr. Feldman is well-known for his research studies focused on patients’ adherence to topical treatments as well as for founding www.DrScore.com, an online doctor rating and patient feedback website.

What does Dr. Feldman think about what we’re doing at PatientsLikeMe?  And what’s his take on the current challenges for psoriasis patients, as well as the treatment advances that may be ahead?  Find out that and much more in our interview.

1. As the founder of DrScore.com, tell us how rating doctors online can improve medical care.

Doctors want to give their patients great medical care.  Online ratings can help by giving doctors the feedback they need to know—from patients’ perspectives—such as what the doctor is doing well and what the doctor can do to enhance the quality of care in their practice.  www.DrScore.com was designed to help facilitate that feedback while also giving patients a better picture—more transparency—of the quality of care physicians provide, something that wasn’t nearly so easy to do in the pre-Internet era.

2. What do you think about PatientsLikeMe’s data-sharing platform and openness philosophy?

PatientsLikeMe does a truly wonderful job taking advantage of the capabilities of the Internet to permit data sharing among patients so they can learn from one another.  Another extraordinary accomplishment has been to develop ways to combine that data in order to better understand diseases and the benefits and risks of the treatments for those diseases.  Openness is a terrific attribute in this Internet age.  I am very optimistic about medicine and health care providers and think there’s nothing to hide (and if there were something to hide, it ought to be exposed)!

3. You’ve done extensive research around treatment adherence.  What are the considerations for patients?

Well, as the former Surgeon General put it, medicines don’t work if patients don’t take them.  Taking medicine isn’t easy, unless it is a habit.  And when a patient starts to use a new medicine, taking it isn’t a habit.  Patients forget their medicine, they may be fearful of their medicine, there are just all sorts of reasons why patients don’t always take their medications.  I think coming up with a plan, a system, for remembering is helpful. (I keep my own pills in a seven-day dispenser on the dinner table, which works great for me except when my family goes out to eat).

Dr. Feldman uses a seven-day pill dispenser box like this one to help with his own treatment adherence.  Image courtesy of Stock Free Images.

If patients are fearful, they should have an honest discussion with the doctor about it.  One thing is certain: patients should be honest with their doctors about how they use their medicines.  It does neither the patient nor the doctor any good for the patient to tell the doctor one thing but do something else.  If a doctor does prescribe a medicine that the patient thinks is too costly or too risky, the patient should let their doctor know.  The doctor wants to know and may be able to change things.

4.  We have a growing psoriasis community.  What challenges do psoriasis patients face?

Psoriasis has a huge impact on patients’ lives.  It affects how patients perceive themselves, how other people perceive the person who has psoriasis, and, in many cases, how someone with psoriasis thinks they are perceived by others.  The lesions aren’t just unsightly; they can be itchy and painful.  The condition is caused by an overactive immune system, which can also result in arthritis and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and depression.  There are good treatments, but the treatments have their downsides: they may be costly, inconvenient, messy, and risky.  One of the biggest challenges is getting educated about all the potential options.  It isn’t easy.

5. In our forum, patients have been discussing whether diet can affect psoriasis.  What’s your take?

Well, I don’t know of any particular dietary issues that have been definitively shown to affect psoriasis one way or the other (except perhaps that starvation temporarily improves the disease, probably by inhibiting the immune system).  But if a particular patient finds some particular dietary issue that makes their psoriasis worse (or better), they should eat accordingly.  Some patients tell me beer and/or wine makes their disease worse or that avoiding gluten has helped.  The PatientsLikeMe platform may be helpful in compiling the experiences of many people to see if these are issues for individuals or could truly help patients in general.

6. Any thoughts on what’s ahead in terms of psoriasis management and treatment advances?

As our understanding of the immune system improves, scientists at drug companies will be developing newer and perhaps better ways of controlling immune diseases, including psoriasis.  As our health care system changes to become more cost conscious, there may be greater reliance on low cost treatments, like generic creams and ointments for people with mild disease and more use of phototherapy for people with more severe involvement.  And with better data collection—like with PatientsLikeMe—we may develop a better understanding of what works, what doesn’t work, and what risks and benefits our treatments have.


A Brief History of AKU, the First Genetic Disease Discovered

Posted January 17th, 2013 by

Last week, we announced that we are creating the first open, global registry for alkaptonuria (AKU), in collaboration with the AKU Society.  You may not have heard of this extremely rare disease – which causes a severe, early-onset form of osteoarthritis – but it plays an important role in the history of genetic diseases.  In fact, AKU, which is estimated to affect 1 in 250,000 to 500,000 people, was the very first genetic disease identified in the scientific record.  Strangely, though, the scientific community failed to recognize this landmark discovery until much later.

The chemical structure of homogentistic acid (HGA), the substance that accumulates in the bodies of AKU patients at more than 2,000 times the normal rate due to a genetic mutation. Image courtesy of AKU Society.

In 1902, Sir Archibald Garrod, a British physician interested in childhood diseases, published a paper describing the hereditary nature of AKU in The Lancet.  After observing the frequent occurrence of AKU in siblings, Garrod came to believe that the condition was congenital and possibly hereditary.  Using chemical studies, he set out to disprove the existing theory that AKU was infectious – and succeeded. By 1908-1909, he’d expanded his radical notion of lifelong hereditary disease to other rare disorders: albinism, cystinuria and pentosuria.   In lectures and publications at the time, he became the first person to describe a human condition that followed Mendelian inheritance patterns, the first to propose the concept of recessive inheritance, and the first to mention the importance of consanguinity, or the genetic similarity of blood relatives who marry and reproduce.

As a result of these significant discoveries, Garrod (who passed away in 1936) is now considered the first human geneticist, as well as the father of “inborn errors of metabolism,” an expression he coined. Yet Garrod’s pioneering work was not appreciated during his lifetime.   Part of this may be due to the fact that the term “genetics” itself – as well as the principles behind it – had not yet been formulated when he was alive.  He was far ahead of his time.  According to a 2008 article published in the Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disorders, Garrod “can rightly be deemed one of the most profound intellectuals of the 20th century, whose bequests to science and medicine continue to increase in value.”

Despite over 100 years of study since Garrod’s 1902 publication, there is still no cure for AKU.  Through our new registry – which will bring together AKU patients from around the world, patients who may have never met another AKU patient like themselves – we hope to help both patients and researchers answer fundamental questions and accelerate research focused on this often painfully debilitating disease.   What we will discover, together?  Stay tuned.


Dronamraju K. Profiles in Genetics:  Archibald E. Garrod. Am J Hum Genet. 51:216-219, 1992.

Rosenberg LE.  Legacies of Garrod’s brilliance.  One hundred years—and counting. J Inherit Metab Dis. 2008 Oct; 31(5):574-9.


Navigating the Healthcare System with Disabilities

Posted January 14th, 2013 by

Are medical facilities prepared to meet the needs of disabled individuals?  It would seem reasonable to think so, but according to PatientsLikeMe members, that’s not always the case.

A potential issue for a disabled patient in a wheelchair:  transferring into the dentist's chair.

For example, consider the case of a female patient using a powered wheelchair who doesn’t have the upper body strength to transfer herself out of the chair.  How does she transfer from the wheelchair to an exam table, dentist chair, mammogram booth or even a weight scale in the doctor’s office?  Assistance is required, yet according to our members, some medical facilities and doctor’s offices claim they cannot provide assistance due to liability issues (e.g., the risk of being sued by the patient or the risk of a worker’s comp claim due to a staff injury).  So what’s the patient to do?

In a discussion in our Multiple Sclerosis Forum, patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) posited that the only immediate solutions appeared to be asking the provider to meet the patient at a nearby hospital (which not all providers will agree to do), changing providers (which is not always easy given insurance networks and geographic location), or switching to home healthcare (which can mean not getting to see your provider in person).  None are ideal.  In comparison, other patients report that their medical facilities, including Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospitals, offer assistive equipment such as mounted ceiling lifts, slings and HoverMatts to facilitate safe wheelchair transfers.

Should all medical facilities be required to have these types of accommodations? Is it discrimination if they don’t? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.


A Day in the Life of Health Data and Drug Information Clinical Specialist David Blaser

Posted January 11th, 2013 by

What’s it like to work at PatientsLikeMe?  We are continuing to reveal just that with our ongoing blog series “A Day in the Life,” which features PatientsLikeMe employees from different departments.  Today we’d like to introduce you to David Blaser, PharmD, a registered pharmacist who decided to trade his white lab coat for the more casual dress of the startup world in early 2011.  Find out what drew him to PatientsLikeMe, how his pharmacy background factors into his work and more.

1.  What led you to join PatientsLikeMe?

My journey had a few twists and turns, but now that I’m here, I can’t imagine working anywhere else.  I started studying pharmacy at Northeastern in 2003. Toward the end of my time there, I started to consider the career paths I could take and didn’t find any of the traditional ones particularly compelling. Maybe it was part of being young and naïve, but I continually was disappointed and perplexed by our healthcare system in the US. I felt like there had to be a better way.

David Blaser

Then I took a great class called Pharmacoeconomics and Health Outcomes. During this class, you take a medical question (e.g., Should I take drug A or drug B for this problem?) and develop computer models that take into account how it would affect the overall health of the population. It made perfect sense to me, and I didn’t understand why this wasn’t done in our system.

Fascinated with this area of medicine, I started a two-year research fellowship at UMass Medical School to learn more about it. During this time, I worked on lots of models examining conditions from insomnia to hepatitis C. Toward the end, I was looking at career opportunities in this area and got an alert about a posting on PatientsLikeMe. I was amazed how the system PatientsLikeMe had put together was even better than the models I was working on and how it could revolutionize our healthcare system. So I immediately contacted Paul Wicks, the head of R&D at PatientsLikeMe, and was able to set up an internship to work a few days a month on various projects. This eventually turned into a position on the Health Data Integrity Team with Christine Caligtan, Sally Okun and Shivani Bhargava.

On a more personal note, during this time my family and I went through the death of my brother due to substance abuse. This has had a deep impact on me and made me reflect on how can I help others avoid a similar fate. One of my long-term goals at PatientsLikeMe is to develop a better support community for other patients with substance abuse disorders.

2.  What’s surprised you the most about the health startup world?

The majority of my previous work experience was in pharmacies, which is one of the most heavily regulated professions. The amount of documentation, guidelines and laws you have to follow is staggering. When I started at PatientsLikeMe, I would find myself asking, where are our guidelines or what is the protocol?  I remember asking Co-Founder Jamie Heywood, and his response really changed my way of thinking.

He told me that no one else has ever tried to do what PatientsLikeMe is doing and there is no rule book. When you reflect on it, it is amazing to be part of the first company to try to accomplish our mission and develop a rule book for something that’s never been done.  Besides this, there is nothing better than having a job where you can have a beer in the office at the end of a stressful day and others join in with you.  (This is frowned upon in hospitals!)

3.  How does your doctoral and fellowship training inform your work?

While at Northeastern, I completed a doctor of pharmacy degree (PharmD). This gave me the knowledge needed to maintain our drug database and think about how medications should be added to our user profiles. There is still a lot to be done in this area, but I’m looking forward to improving it as we continue to develop our site.

David Blaser (second from left) at play

While at UMass, I studied the different ways that ‘health’ can be measured. This seems like something that should be straightforward, but I found a whole new way of evaluating medicine and health. In theory, you give one group a drug and give another group a sugar pill and see who lives longer, but many patients don’t have the time for that. We need to get answers now, so how can we measure more intermediate outcomes to give us a clue about which medications work better? And what about medications that don’t make you live longer, but make your life better? It’s a difficult process that will never be perfect, but I think that the surveys and tools PatientsLikeMe has developed do an excellent job of measuring these things.

4.  What are the challenges of overseeing the wealth of drug information on the site?

People love sharing information! I recently talked with a member who entered information related to a hand injury they experienced while cutting some fruit, including every nerve and tendon that was injured and the different surgeries and operations to heal it. We love that people share such detailed information, but it can create some difficulty in designing profiles so that they are not overwhelming.

As for the drug information on the site, there are many ways that medications are formulated and taken that are difficult to show in the system. Medications can have different dosages, different formulations (e.g., creams, syrups, pills, injections), different schedules (e.g., take one daily, take one every six weeks, etc.), and they can come in a variety of combinations with other drugs. Not to mention the same medications may be available as a prescription drug, over-the-counter drug and supplement all at the same time. The medication databases that are available don’t always meet the needs of our users, but I do my best to put the right information and options in front of them.

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Interested in making a difference in patients’ lives?  Check out our Careers page to see our current job openings.  Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, PatientsLikeMe is looking for a Senior Visual Designer, Client Services Program Director, HEOR Research Scientist and more at the moment.


PatientsLikeMe and AKU Society to Develop World’s First Open Registry for Alkaptonuria Patients

Posted January 9th, 2013 by

Online Patient Network to Connect Patients With Rare Disease,
Create Valuable Data for Research

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — January 9, 2013 — PatientsLikeMe and the AKU Society are working together to create the first open, global registry for patients with alkaptonuria (AKU), one of the world’s rarest diseases and the first genetic disease discovered. Nicknamed “black bone disease,” AKU leads to a condition that causes the bones and cartilage to become black and brittle. Through PatientsLikeMe.com, patients with AKU can now track their disease progression, connect with others who have the disease, and contribute health data to the registry’s real-time research platform.

AKU Society Chairman Nick Sireau says rare diseases affect millions of people worldwide, but questions about them are so costly for nonprofits to investigate that they remain largely unanswered. “More than 100 years after its discovery, we still don’t know exactly how many people have AKU, or what they are doing and experiencing. We’re excited to partner with PatientsLikeMe to help patients connect with each other and help researchers answer some of the most fundamental questions about rare diseases.”

PatientsLikeMe works with nonprofits to establish open registries for both rare and common diseases. With the AKU Society, the company will regularly gather data about AKU patients’ symptoms and daily lives to establish the most up-to-date source for new medical evidence about the disease.

PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood says, “This open registry will give anyone—hospitals, pharmacies, providers, nonprofits and patients themselves—a real world view of where and how the disease affects people. This information is vital to deepen our collective understanding of AKU and to drive smarter action, more effective treatments and better patient outcomes.”

AKU has no cure and is estimated to affect one person in every 250,000-500,000. For more information visit http://www.patientslikeme.com/join/aku.

About The AKU Society
The AKU Society was founded in 2003 in Liverpool by AKU sufferer Bob Gregory and his doctor, Dr. Lakshminarayan Ranganath of the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals. It was the first AKU charity in the world. It is patient-led and includes patients, relatives, medical experts and friends and carers among its supporters. The society aims to locate AKU sufferers to offer them help and support, to raise awareness of AKU and to support research into its treatment. Its vision is to find a cure for AKU within the next decade. The AKU Society has established an influential multidisciplinary network, including representatives from numerous universities and hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and national AKU patient groups in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America. The society has also funded two research programs into AKU and the first AKU information center. Visit us at www.akusociety.org or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

About PatientsLikeMe
PatientsLikeMe is a patient network that helps improve lives and a real-time research platform that advances medicine. Through the network, patients connect with others who have the same disease or condition and track and share their own experiences. In the process, they generate data about the real-world nature of disease that help researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, providers and nonprofits develop more effective products, services and care. PatientsLikeMe has become a trusted source for real-world disease information and a clinically robust resource that has published more than 25 peer-reviewed research studies. Visit us at www.patientslikeme.com or follow us via our blog, Twitter or Facebook.


Write a Love/Hate Letter to Your Thyroid for Thyroid Awareness Month

Posted January 7th, 2013 by

Do you love your thyroid?  Do you hate it?  Or more importantly, do you even know where it is?

A small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck (just below the Adam’s apple), the thyroid influences the function of the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin.  That’s why it’s so important to know if you have a thyroid problem – especially if you’re a woman.  Women are five times more likely than men to suffer from hypothyroidism, which occurs when the gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone for the body to function properly.  Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain, miscarriages, forgetfulness, irregular menstrual periods and numerous other symptoms.

Dear Thyroid

In honor of Thyroid Awareness Month this January, we wanted to spotlight Dear Thyroid, a website that encourages literary self-expression from thyroid patients, including patients with lesser known thyroid conditions such as thyroid cancer, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hyperthyroidism.  The slogan is “Healing Our Thyroids One Letter at a Time, As Many as It Takes,” and each love/hate letter is displayed with retro and pinup artwork as “subversive” yet “iconic images of perfect health and beauty.”  Got a few things you’d like to say to your thyroid?  Write them down today and experience how good it feels to let it all out!  (Read Dear Thyroid’s submission details.)

Another source of relief comes from finding people who truly understand what you’re going through – namely, other patients like you.  Connect with the more than 3,500 patients with hypothyroidism at PatientsLikeMe today and see how they are managing their condition.  How many of them are taking Levothyroxine (branded as Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid and more), a synthetic form of the human hormone thyroxine?  And how do they rate the effectiveness, side effects, cost and more?  Dig into our in-depth treatment evaluations to learn from real-world patient experiences with this common hypothyroidism medication.


Live Better Together in 2013

Posted January 4th, 2013 by

Last year, over 170,00 patients learned from each other’s shared experiences every day on PatientsLikeMe. In 2013, we promise to continue putting the patient first. We’ll provide better, more effective ways for sharing real-world health experiences that help you, other patients like you, and organizations that focus on your conditions.

You’ll hear us talk more than ever this year about living better, together. What does that mean to you? As we kick off 2013, just know this…what inspires us most to live better, together is YOU.

From everyone at PatientsLikeMe, Happy New Year!

rare-disease-day-2013-plm-employees-raising-hands


What Would You Tell Yourself 10 Years Ago?

Posted January 3rd, 2013 by

The beginning of a new year is always a time for reflection.  You look back, you look ahead and you try to find the big picture.   For patients living with chronic health conditions, a new year can be an opportunity to implement and share lessons learned along the way – about how to cope, manage symptoms, find support, maintain perspective and much more.

It's a new year.  What will you do differently?

Here are a few pieces of advice from members of our Mental Health and Behavior Community in response to the thought-provoking question, “What do you wish you could tell yourself 10 years ago?”

  • Guilt drains your energy and doesn’t accomplish anything. Let it go.
  • Take your meds as prescribed for your sake – and your family’s.
  • Don’t like your provider? Trust your instincts and find a good one.
  • Just taking a shower or going on a walk can make you feel better.
  • Pick up the phone. Only you can break the cycle of self-isolating.
  • Things can get better with the right treatments and care team.
  • Get help if you’re self-medicating with alcohol, drugs or self-harm.
  • Remember, you’re not crazy or lazy – you have a chronic disease.
  • If you’re unable to keep working, apply for disability right away.
  • Be kind and patient with yourself because life is hard enough as is.

Is there something you wish you’d known earlier? Chime in on the discussion or share your thoughts in the comments section. Here’s to getting a little wiser in 2013!