Health Websites You Can Trust
Years ago when you have questions about your health you had three options: 1) ask your family doctor; 2) ask your smartest friend for their advice; or 3) turn to the family medical guide book. All you could do was just hope for the best and weigh your options. But now with the world wide web, we have an abundance of health information at our fingertips. But now that you have the web at your disposal 24/7, do you take better care of yourself? According to a study by the Pew Internet Project, almost half the people said they do.
To get accurate and correct information online you have to sift through a lot of know-it-alls and wrong information. After much research, we found that there are some sites out there that rank very high not only in accurate content, but also in user-friendliness.
Granted there are plenty of sites out there that can make you a very informed patient, but remember that the Internet itself should not replace actual face time with your family physician. It’s always better to do some online research before you see your doctor. That way, you can walk in knowing more about your symptoms and ask questions you need answer to. If you don’t know what kinds of questions to ask first, you may not get all the information you need.
My goal for you today is to look beyond obtaining one perspective so you can get the best health care for yourself and your family. One tip I tell my clients all the time is this – when conducting a search for a problem or concern, use Google and type in, “natural alternatives to ____.” Then look at the benefits and concerns for what you find.
When you’re on the site, find out about the site’s reliability by asking these five simple questions.
1) Is the information current?
2) Is the site accredited?
3) Is the information objective?
4) Do they have a security policy and is it posted?
5) Does the site link you to other resources?
Let’s begin with alternative medicine
I want to encourage everyone to consider alternative options before you consider medication options. Why? Because most medications are toxic to the body and can cause many side effects that contribute to more problems, especially if you’re taking more than one medication. So many times I hear people accept the fact that they are tired, sore, shaky, have little appetite or a number of other problems. If this is not the norm, then why accept it?
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (www.nccih.nih.gov. This is my favorite site because it offers useful information from acupuncture to zinc. They provide information on safety, seeking treatment from an alternative practitioner, the latest research findings, clinical guidelines, literature reviews, and training. They even offer a section on dietary supplements, herbal dos and don’ts, fad diets, and so much more.
WebMD (www.webmd.com). I LOVE this site and use it often. If you are seeking some basic information and facts for a condition, you will want a site that offers straight forward and easy to use information. They have a great search feature that offer links to learn of possible causes and treatments for your ailment. I really like that I can input my interests and receive email updates on those topics weekly.
The Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com) is my second go-to site. This site is best used for consumer-oriented information that center around both illnesses and drugs. They cover a wide range of topics and it’s easy to navigate within. Like WebMD, you can input your interests and receive updates.
Aetna InteliHealth (www.intelihealth.com). Aetna Insurance and the Harvard Medical School have formed a partnership to offer sound information to its readers that focus on general health and living a healthy lifestyle. It’s an easy site to navigate around and I really like the tips it offers readers for buying medications online. This is an area of growing concern today.
Women and Children’s Health
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (www.acog.org). This site has an area specifically for patients and offers a number of links that focus on topics from contraception to menopause and all things in between. You can also find OB-GYNs that is searchable by city.
Kids Health (www.kidshealth.org). When you first access this site, you’ll see the portal that offers its readers four choices—information for parents, kids, teens and educators. The site is simple and very clear and offers a ton of information on a number of topics that open to expose its contents. I’ve spent hours on this site just looking around.
If you’re looking for information on more specific conditions, you can use Google and find organizations that speak directly to your particular condition. Just be careful and do your research. There have been many allegations of late where people will quote a hospital or research firm and the quotes are completely bogus.
Look for the suffix on a website to learn of its reliability. If you see .org (run by a nonprofit group), .gov (a federal government agency) or .edu (an educational institution), you will find their information to be more accurate than not. Also, when you use Google to search, look at the link below the bolded first line. Will the link take you directly to the page source or will it take you to an article that was sourced? Like I mentioned above, look for the suffix to determine where the link will take you. The shorter the link, the chances are you’ll get a more direct route to the reliable information you are looking for.