Salud Saturday: The Disconnect Between Latinos And Their Health

© Lepas |

© Lepas |

Guest Post by Christina Elizabeth Rodríguez (@kikisbetes)

Latinos are passionate people. We talk about racism, we talk about progression, we talk about moving forward and doing things to push our community to the next level. We saw this at LATISM11. It was clearly a motivational and inspirational two days, at least for me.

As all these tech-savvy Latinos came together, you saw smiles and nods and heard, “It’s so nice to finally meet you!” Avatars came to life! The support that I felt among the men and women of LATISM was immense and completely appreciated.

In these situations, I wonder where the disconnect is between Latinos and their health. I recently wrote a blog (if recent is about a couple months ago) about how if people were as passionate about their health as they are about prejudice or racism or stereotypes or progression of our culture, we could’ve found a cure for things like diabetes by now.

Why is it so hard to have someone take care of themselves? Why, when it’s so readily available, is it hard to get Latinos to manage their diabetes? Look at Walgreen’s and CVS. They have affordable ways of helping with diabetes management. Things are being translated to help the community that needs it, but they why don’t we take advantage? You would think that Latinos want to suffer, but that’s not true, is it?

When we have headaches, we reach for pills of some sort. But when things get a bit more serious, what do we turn to? In my family, it’s home remedies. Stomach aches = Yerba Buena. Fevers = Alcohol rub downs. Phlegmy cough = salt on the chest at night. Or vapor rub. Your choice. I hated the salt. I used to wake up with salt all over my bed, in my clothes. It was like sand, but I didn’t have the nasty cough any more. It was genius.

Since fevers are a sign of infection, doctors can’t do much but wait until it works its way out of your system, which we wash out with numerous fluids and using different methods of breaking fevers. That’s where the bottle of clear rubbing alcohol rub downs come in. After covering yourself up and sleeping off the rub down, you wake up in your own sweat feeling amazing.

For some odd reason, the salt on the chest thing was the most wonderful yet uncomfortable remedy. Phlegmy coughs get attention from Robitussin and cough drops but you can’t do much for those either. Salt breaks up the mucus to help you sleep. It’s phenomenal. And last but not least, you have yerba buena. It’s the most magical tea of all. In my family, you give that stuff to kids and babies for constipation and tummy aches.

You can see why we as Latinos don’t go to doctors. We have something for everything. But where do we draw the line? Where do we say, ‘OK, ya no podemos hacer nada con esta enfermedad. Tenemos que encontrar ayuda’? We need help. Are Latinos too proud? Are Latinos not caring because they don’t find a reason? There are just some things that you can’t cure with just a simple remedy.

Preventative measures, yes. But once you already have been diagnosed with diabetes, you need to take that extra step forward and acknowledge that you can’t cure yourself with tea, salt, rubbing alcohol or anything else that makes people look at you with a tilted head and cockeyed.

If we were more passionate about our health, we would totally have found a cure for diabetes already.


Christina is a writer who lives in Chicago. She has a Master’s in journalism from the UIUC and writes non-fiction, fiction and poetry. You may find her inspired musings on life, media and music at Mine & Mine Only. Christina is a Type I #diabetic and she writes about living with the disease at theDiabetes Types A Blog.  You may also know her as @kiki416.




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