By Ron VandenBoom
The Internet as a disseminator of information can be invaluable, but the development of some Web sites that dispense medical advice, and even some that provide prescription refills at large discounts, bother me.
I will not give the Internet addresses for these sites because I am not convinced they are in the best interest of the consumer. Anyone who watches TV today has probably already been exposed to some of them, but call me old fashion, if I need a doctor, I want to see a doctor. And hopefully, so do you.
I want to emphasize medical information found on the Web is just that, information. There are no doctors with offices on the Internet. Only a physician who sees the patient in person and who is allowed to run all necessary medical tests can be expected to provide accurate medical advise.
The consumer, in my opinion, also makes a poor doctor. To borrow and twist an old saying, the doctor who tries to heal himself has a fool for a patient. If youre sick, see your family physician. Do not depend on information gleaned from the Internet to treat yourself.
Now that I have all necessary disclaimers posted, I want to offer The United States National Library of Medicine as one site people seeking medical information might want to try.
The library of medicine, located at http://www.nim.nih.gov/ is not for the neophyte researcher. The site offers links to health information, including Medline, Medline plus, and other resources. There is also a large database of publications, information on research programs, and general information on visiting the library, directories, and frequently asked questions.
This is one of those sites where professionals might well find more information than the laymen. It is also a site that could easily lose surfers in a quagmire of articles and information they dont really want to read.
MedicineNet.com at www.medicinenet.com/Script/Main/hp.asp helps to bring the information into the range of usable information to the consumer.
A menu on the left side of the page offers quick and easy access to Diseases and Treatments, Procedures and Tests, The Pharmacy, a medical dictionary, first aid, and poison control centers.
Simply click on one of the topics you want to research and you will get a quick, simple and easy-to-read explanation of what the ailment is and the most common means to treat it. You also will find a list of drugs used for treatment and explanations of what they are, how they are used, what they do, and side effects.
The best thing about the site is how easy it is to find your way around and obtain the information you are looking for while still providing a large library of topics.
While I recommend this site for people wanting to expand their personal knowledge, one of its beauties is its lack of medical advice. The site provides information without pushing this or that cure.
To re-emphasize what I said before: First, go to your family doctor. If, after you have learned what your ailment is, you want additional information, you may find it on this site.