Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fact or fiction on the Net?

From page A9 | July 13, 2014 |

Chelle Cordero

It’s been said that sometimes a little knowledge is dangerous. It is easy to look up health care information online, but is self-diagnosis using the information you find the healthy thing to do?

Internet sites that offer “a healthy dose of FREE medical info” also can cause a lot of anxiety and “cyberchondria” (Internet-induced hypochondria). Search engines can also cause confusion as search terms find URLs that are not necessarily medically related. The Internet has had a significant influence on the patient-doctor relationship, as well as on self-diagnosis and the use of over-the-counter treatments.

The content of medical Internet sites may be skewed by its sponsors. A good guide to the purpose of a site is the domain suffix. The U.S. government funds websites with addresses ending in “.gov.” Educational institutes maintain “.edu” sites. Noncommercial organizations’ addresses often use “.org” and “.com” denotes a commercial organization.

Pharmaceutical sites might recommend their medications in hopes that patients will ask their doctors for prescriptions. Educational sites tend to be heavy on research and data collection. Check the credentials of the contributing professionals to help gauge the accuracy of the information provided. Informed patients can improve the care they receive, but it is important never to rely on a single source for information.

The Internet and mobile health apps are helpful tools that empower a patient to advocate for his own well-being, and they may help to reduce the overall cost of health care when kept in perspective. Confusing medical terminology can be simplified, and pertinent questions may come to mind when conditions are researched online. This can be an effective step in the overall process.

However, online information must be reviewed with a hint of skepticism and should never supersede information and directions provided by a bona fide medical doctor. Because symptoms may be relevant to more than one ailment, effective diagnostics, such as those a doctor’s office could provide, may be necessary to correctly identify a condition.

In 2008, New York’s Westchester County introduced its “It’s My Healthcare” initiative in hopes of making communication easier between the layperson and medical professionals. “With all the confusing medical terminology nowadays, many people get flustered when they go to the doctor and usually remember the questions they wanted to ask after they leave the office,” said former County Executive Andy Spano. The Westchester site provides explanations of various diseases and conditions and gives helpful information on available resources, as well as forms to help a person prepare questions to bring with them to the doctor’s office. The experience is designed to foster a beneficial partnership between doctor and patient.

Other sites such as allow viewers to match symptoms with possible ailments and treatments and determine whether or not it is a true emergency. Many conditions have similar symptoms, though. Queries about headaches, for example, may give results including migraines, sinusitis, high blood pressure, diabetes, malocclusion, sleep apnea, sunburn, mumps and even constipation. There is a disclaimer and some good advice on WebMD, which warns that the information on their site is ” … not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD site.”

MedlinePlus is the website for the National Institutes of Health: It is produced by the National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus is an up-to-date resource for information on drugs, supplements and the latest treatments. There are also medical videos and links to the latest research on your chosen topic. National Library of Medicine Director Dr. Donald Lindberg verifies that MedlinePlus is updated daily and that there is no advertising on the site and no endorsement of any company or product. There are more than 900 diseases, illnesses, health conditions and wellness issues discussed on Medline Plus. But even with daily updating, every visitor is an individual whose symptoms or condition may not be fully addressed with the available information.

A licensed doctor is the best resource for comprehensive treatment. The best outcome is achieved when patients and doctors understand and cooperate with each other.



Creators Syndicate

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Rain Recyclers saves water for another day

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Former foster youths aided by UCD’s Guardian programs

    By Sarah Colwell | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Feds will discuss Berryessa Snow Mountain protection

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    ‘Longest Night’ service Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Journalist will join post-film discussion Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Nominate teens for Golden Heart awards

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Konditorei presents free holiday concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    City offices will take a winter break

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Supplies collected for victims of abuse

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    New technology chief will join McNaughton Newspapers

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Yolo County needs a few good advisers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Per Capita Davis: Time to stop fooling around

    By John Mott-Smith | From Page: A4

    NAMI-Yolo offers free mental health education program

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5



    Marovich is a brilliant diplomat

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    And a jolly time was had by all

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Remember that all lives matter

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Pollution from electric vehicles

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6



    Devil boys host Les Curry beginning Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD women gear up for second half of swim season

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie men begin 4-game road trip at Air Force

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    On skiing: What to know when buying new skis

    By Jeffrey Weidel | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Youth roundup: DBC Juniors rider Kanz wins a cyclocross event

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery



    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B3

    College Corner: How does applying for financial aid work?

    By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: B3

    Anniversary: Barbara and Jan Carter

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    Something growing in the mailbox

    By Don Shor | From Page: A8 | Gallery



    Point of Brew: Recollections of Christmases past

    By Michael Lewis | From Page: A7

    Come ‘Home for the Holidays’ and benefit school arts

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Golden Bough brings Irish holidays to The Palms

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Sing and dance along to Cold Shot at Froggy’s

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery





    Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Thursday, December 18, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6


    Last Minute Gift Guide

    Young phenoms make YouTube success look like child’s play

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG1

    Classic or contemporary, it’s all holiday music to our ears

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG2

    Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG3

    Gift ideas for the health-conscious

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: LMG6

    Hall of Fame proudly puts these toys on the shelf

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG7