Medical Advice Online

Category: Reference

There's a lot of medical information online, but I'm not sure what to trust. Where can I go to learn more about various drugs and medical conditions? I want information from real doctors, not some guy selling miracle cures.

Fake doctors?

"Doctor, My Eyes!"

One morning you may wake up with puffy, irritated eyes. Is it just a seasonal allergy, or something worse? Thanks to the Internet, we have the ability to find out the answer to many medical problems before we visit the doctor's office. Many medical research websites are available now to the public, sharing medical advice that will help you diagnose your every ailment.

Trustworthy Online Medical Websites

WebMD is one of the leading medical reference websites. The website contains thousands of articles on diseases and how to stay healthy. You can go through a mini-test to check out if that sore throat is really just a sore throat, or if it could be something worse. The test is divided for men and women, to give a more accurate diagnosis.

The Mayo Clinic website uses a similar symptom checker to help you diagnosis your medical problem, along with additional information about drugs and supplements. The website contains an "Ask the Specialist" section, where you can ask different doctors whether that mole on your arm is something serious and if it should be looked at by a doctor.

The CDC is globally recognized for efforts to prevent and control infectious and chronic diseases, injuries, workplace hazards, disabilities, and environmental health threats. An agency of the US government, the Centers for Disease Control strives to apply research and findings to improve people’s daily lives and responds to health emergencies.

MedLine Plus is a service of the US National Library of Medicine, and will direct you to information to help answer health questions. MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations.

HealthAtoZ.com is another website filled with medical suggestions, tips and advice. Use it as a resource to check on when you want a second source for your research.

The RX List website offers current prescription information, including a list of side effects for many drugs.

Why Finding Medical Advice Online Is Great

The websites with medical advice that you visit could give you valuable information and may help you decide what questions to ask when you visit your doctor. By researching the information, you can better describe your symptoms to your doctor. This may lead to an open conversation about the possibilities and optional treatment methods.

For example, many medical symptoms sound alike. By educating yourself before you go to the doctor, so you can discuss the best method for diagnosis. Mono and strep throat have similar symptoms; scratchy throat, swollen lymph nodes, and fever. It would be easier to check for strep throat, which only takes a throat culture by using a cotton swab, instead of checking for mono, which usually means drawing blood. Knowing this, you and your doctor could create a plan, opting for the least painful and less costly procedure first before taking the next step up.

What To Look For

Look for websites where registered doctors are the key source of information. Places like WebMD and HealthAtoZ have specific doctors who approve all of the content, assuring that you get the most accurate information.

While medical advice websites are helpful for finding answers, they do not replace a professional doctor's diagnosis. Do not begin your own medical treatment without talking to your doctor. Misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment could lead to serious problems. Use online medical advice websites as a resource, not as a replacement for professional medical advice.

Alternative Medicines

natural and alternative medicine After diagnosing the problem, you may want to look at alternative, and sometimes healthier, ways of dealing with the illness. Alternative medical websites offer a way to help deal with pain and diseases without using traditional medications. You should talk with your doctor before trying alternative medical treatments, but in most cases, they can supplement what your doctor has already prescribed.

Alternative Medicine is one of the most thorough sites about alternative medicines. It includes articles from doctors and medical practitioners and some very creative alternatives to common medicines.

Dr. Joseph Mercola operates the Mercola.com website, and publishes a popular natural health newsletter, espousing the philosophy that the human body is designed to self-regulate and be healthy. Dr. Mercola cautions against the disease-focused mass media and powerful special interests that focus only on expensive drugs and surgery when dealing with health challenges.

Support Groups

If you need someone to talk to about your current medical problems, you may want to visit an online support group. Online support groups are there for you if you don't have time to visit a live group, or you just prefer to remain anonymous. You can exchange emails and posts about your questions, get answers, and provide support for others.

Open Directory provides a list of many health support groups that you can find on the Internet. The directory is extensive, with support groups for victims of diseases, recovering patients, and for families of those who are ill.

Online Drug Stores

prescription drugs Some online pharmacies offer cheap drugs that you can get with or without a prescription, but you probably don't want to take the risk with these types of companies. These websites may promise a lot, but you often run the risk of running into overnight scams, where they will take your money and run. The problem with that is, depending on where you are located, it could be illegal to purchase those drugs without a prescription, so you may be reluctant to report your case to the police.

On the other hand, places like CVS and Drugstore.com are making it easier for you to get your prescriptions the legal way, by taking orders online. Both of these sites will also let you order your prescriptions online and have them delivered to your door. It's a better way to get your prescriptions because you can save yourself a trip to the drug store, and the drugs are delivered to your door.

Got comments about online medical advice? Post your thoughts below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Medical Advice Online"

Posted by:

K. Mayberry
13 Mar 2007

While the sites you list are good, I'm surprised not to see medlineplus.gov - the National Library of Medicine on your list.

Since they have no advertisements or registration required and don't promote any "business" (we will ignore grant funding), I would feel that they would be a good starting resource. They have patient interactive materials and Spanish language versions available as well.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Consider it mentioned!


Posted by:

Amanda UK
13 Mar 2007

Just to say, you could add this to your list of reliable online medical services: http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/

It's great. The phone help is presumably for UK residents only, but still, there's a lot of info on the site...


Posted by:

A. Weiler
13 Mar 2007

I was disappointed to see that four of the first five web sites listed were commercial web sites, and that three of them are run by WebMD, which is funded in large part by a pharmaceutical company (Lilly). Although such information may be accurate, we're getting only Lilley's side of the story; alternative therapies and medications may be either ignored or played down. (Just try searching WebMD on rivals Merck or Pfizer.)

Surely medical information from research hospitals, professional organizations, the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Disease Control, and other non-profits would be better choices for unbiased, factual medical information.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Being partially funded by Lilly doesn't automatically make WebMD biased. I searched a bit and found plenty of examples where WebMD prominently mentioned drugs made by Pfizer and Merck. WebMD is the biggest fish in the tank, so (as in any field) it's popular to bash them. But I think they offer an excellent resource which is easily to use -- something lacking in many government websites. Thanks for mentioning the CDC, I've added that link to the article.


Posted by:

Janet
13 Mar 2007

I second the mention of MEDLINEPlus. It's my first stop for reliable medical information. Web sites for various professional associations (e.g. American Academy of Pediatrics) are also good, as is NOAH (http://www.noah-health.org/). Also, if you need in-depth medical information, contact your local medical library. Many include lists of links for patients (see the list from my library at http://www.ohsu.edu/library/consumerhealth/chlinks.shtml) , and they also have access to information that is not freely available on the internet.


Posted by:

Janet
13 Mar 2007

I agree with the kudos for WebMD. As a mother, I've used this site for several years and also found the information helpful and reliable. It never felt like they were trying to sell me anything, or push specific drugs.


Posted by:

Ron
13 Mar 2007

The underlying source of all medical truth can be found at http://www.gerson.org - Go to the site and watch the video. Discover that too many deaths caused by members of the AMA are not necessary. We Americans have the power to control our own health without the wasted billion$ for unnecessary and harmful "treatment$" such as cholesterol medication$, bp med$, and created diseases such as re$tle$$ leg $yndrome (guffaw).

Essentially all degenerative disease is caused by the body's inability to assimilate the SAD (Standard American Diet). Essentially all degenerative disease can be "cured" by consuming foods intended for human consumption. Consider the works of Dr. Max Gerson and of Robert O. Young, PhD.


Posted by:

Debra
13 Mar 2007

As a medical librarian for over 20 years, the first two websites I go to for unbiased, qualified medical information are the National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus (http://www.medlineplus.gov) and the Karolinska Institut's Diseases, Disorders, and Related Topics (http://www.mic.ki.se/Diseases/); WebMD is NOT my first choice. I would also be wary of the CDC site. Since the change in "administration" there have also been changes in the CDC patient information pages; I wouldn't blindly believe what is being posted on certain topics.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Can you give an example?


Posted by:

Beti
14 Mar 2007

Another medical Librarian here. While there is nothing inherently bad about the commercial sites you offer, MedlinePlus has the advantage of being an aggregating site. You can find information from medical societies, commerial entities, government sites, and educational institutions, all in the same list. The information is vetted by medical librarians, and your have the opportunity to compare information from many different sources.

On the Medline Plus site, you can also access a medical dictionary, encyclopedia, and drug information, and one click takes you to PubMed, where you can do serious medical research, if necessary.


Posted by:

DOUGLAS GABELL
03 Jul 2007

My Friend's father is suffering with some problem in brain. doctor said 'Due to age factor it has come'. In his prescription 'Venticular system, cystronal spaces abd cerebral sulci in-general are prominent'. please recomend some medicines. for immediate cure.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ummm, wouldn't the doctor do that?


Posted by:

Ashleigh
11 Jul 2007

I went to urgent care about a two weeks ago because my tonsels we so swollen that my they we touching. The doctor said I had strep and he gave me something to make the swelling go down and something for my strep because it hurt to the point of tears to drink, eat anything and my voice was going. I took all of the medication for the amount perscribe. 10-12 days later my tonsels we swollen again and they hurt badly. I have been drinking alot of tea and honey, motrin, and gargaling with salt and caynenne pepper. I think I have strep again and an ear ache. Why are my tonsels swollen again so soon? Will I have to have them removed?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sorry, you're in the wrong place. You'll have to research your problem at one of the sites I mentioned, or see the doctor again.


Posted by:

Kim
09 Jan 2008

My husband is a person who normally sweats a lot. I am concerned about the smell of the sweat on his neck and on his head. It has a urine odor. He is 34 years old, and is hypoglycemic. Other than that he is healthy. His mother just passed away in April from renal failure and diabetes at the age of 52. I am really scared of the urine smell being a sign of him having renal failure. Is this likely, or am I just worrying too much?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Once again... I am not a doctor. Did you visit any of the medical advice sites I mentioned in the article?


Posted by:

Ruby
17 Feb 2008

i have a rash under my armpit, its been for a very long time it coloured my armpit to a darker shade of my skin n its embarrasing to raise my arm in public.i would really appreciate it if a solution is been given to my problem thanks

EDITOR'S NOTE: The solution is "see your doctor."


Posted by:

Cindy
08 Mar 2008

What type of doctor would need to be seen for Alzheimer's testing?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Start with your family doctor or general practitioner. There are some simple tests they can do in the office.


Posted by:

ammar
18 Mar 2008

had an operation in mouth cavity to have a cyst removed. So surgery over etc etc... now the stiches have automatically dissolved but I had eaten something so a bit of flesh could be seen. A strange hard yellowish white or whiteish orange coating has now formed over the open flesh. Is the coating pus or some bacterial infection should I check up on a doctor? The coating stopped the open flesh from hurting and the area around it also doesnt hurt.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Call in the gang from Hard Copy... it could be an alien baby!


Posted by:

Joe
03 Apr 2008

blindness in left eye, loss of muscle control dizziness, all clears up in a few seconds. No pain. Causes?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Maybe you got hit by a falling piano. Who knows?


Posted by:

keith
02 Jun 2008

i workout just about everyday. im 24 years old and i consider myself to be healthy. right now im experiencing numbness in my left arm. i dont know what it is or what to do

EDITOR'S NOTE: See your doctor. I don't know nothin' about birthin' babies.


Posted by:

vinoj
05 Oct 2008

Four days back a small glass piece poked in to my left hand (palm), Immediately I approached a clinic for removing the glass piece, while they were trying to remove the glass piece (after injecting local pain killer in my palm) a lot of blood was flowing out, after sometime the doctor removed a small piece of glass. After this I was having a slight num feeling in my ring finger.

Now after four days, still now I‘m having the same slight num and bit painful feeling in my ring finger. And now that cut portion has swollen up little bit – what could be the reason for this, could any of my small arteries been damaged or could there be another piece of glass left out it that wound. Please advice me – what should I do now.

EDITOR'S NOTE: My advice? See a doctor instead of posting in a tech help forum.


Posted by:

Victory
16 May 2011

Is there a software application which can record our words and type it on a wordpad. eagerly looking forward for the answer.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, Dragon Naturally Speaking. Even has a medical dictionary.


Posted by:

Gene
16 May 2011

I'm really glad to have been born on the age of the internet. I myself look up my symptoms before going to the doctor so i know what i could do to cure myself so i can avoid going to the doctor (cause let's face it, it costs a lot to get a check-up.)

I go to WebMD too and mayoclinic as well as http://www.personalcarewholesaler.com to remedy any ails i feel. Of course i don't really reccommend experimenting with REAL drugs. As long as it's just home remedies like lemon or honey it's fine to try to cure yourself but never attempt taking any real drugs without proper medical advice.


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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Medical Advice Online (Posted: 31 Jan 2007)
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