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Beware Doctor Google

Internet Medical Research: Beware Dr. Google

I love Facebook, in fact I probably spend too much time on there. I use it to keep up with my friends, see photos of their kids, and also to share medical information with colleagues. The internet is an amazing tool. I was trying to explain the concept of encyclopedias to my daughter the other day, explaining that when I was a kid, we had a big set of books in our family room, where we would look up (often outdated) facts about various topics. Yes, I feel old! It’s pretty amazing that we don’t resort to those big encyclopedias anymore, they’ve been traded in for wifi, laptops, and tablets.

In my medical practice, I find there are two types of patients – those who do internet medical research and those who don’t. The internet is an amazing tool, but I caution against using it to figure out what’s wrong with you. Just this week, I’ve seen 4 patients who have diagnosed themselves with rare, fatal diseases – wrongly so- because they read online that their symptoms correlate with brain tumors, degenerative neurological disease, rare autoimmune conditions… you get the picture. The thing is, sometimes we can find good info online, but often it is one-sided, not well-documented, not based on science, and possibly typed by someone who has no medical training and may not even be telling the truth. Dr. Google, as I like to cal it, is tricky. And while sometimes patients come across helpful medical information, more often they become confused and scared by conflicting information and horror stories. Beware Dr. Google!

So, were to get balanced medical information you can rely on? From your healthcare provider, from websites and books written by healthcare providers (check their credentials), and from published studies (check who funded them). It’s totally fine to get information from the web, but please know that it may not be true, may not be the whole story, and may not be the experience of everyone out there (most likely, it’s not!).

5 Minute Health Hacks

Online Resources for Health Info

Pubmed

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
Pubmed is an online database that catalogs medical literature citations. You can search by condition or treatment, and find studies that are relevant to your search. Often, the citations contain links to full articles.

NDNR: Natruopathic Doctor News and Review

http://ndnr.com/
NDNR is a holistic newsletter focused on research-based natural medicine information. It is an excellent source of information on medical conditions and natural treatments.

Mayo Clinic

http://www.mayoclinic.org/
Looking for easy-to-understand information about a diagnosis or medical test? This is the site for you. Mayo Clinic, considered by many to be the best conventional medical facility in the world, makes medicine easy to understand with their searchable website.

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