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The moment the kids become unwell or stop eating, my friends jump on Dr Google to diagnose the problem. This often leads to further worry and stress that the small issue they thought they had may in fact be something far worse. Have you found any informative medical websites that are accurate and safe to use for worried parents?
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Yes, you can go down a rabbit to find crazy ideas to fill your head from non-medical or fringe-like "health gurus" that are not medically sound sources.
As a nurse health writer, I recommend WebMD, Mayo Clinic, MedLine Plus, Medscapes, and Health.gov. I like the American Academy of Pediatrics and kidshealth.org and Dr. Sears for pediatric resources.
Blogs are great for fun ideas, but when it comes to sound medical advice, I would stick to the tried and true experts.
I remember when I was in school I read a humorous essay named “A man who was a hospital”. It was about a man who was used to read medical books for his symptoms and ended up believing that he had all the medical problems he could think of.
Same is the case with Dr. Google, it can be useful if we use it as a forum for additional information alongside professional help. It should never be used as an alternative to guidance and diagnosis by a qualified medical professional.
Once a proper diagnosis is made, parent and professional support groups can be a more reliable way of getting guidance from professionals and learning from lived experiences of others. BUT even these forums should be approached with caution because there can be overlapping symptoms and different people respond differently to treatments.
Dr. Google reminds me of my student life. I remember as students of psychology, when we were learning about different psychological and mental health illnesses, we were used to feel that we had all the symptoms
There are a few alternatives that provide information from professionals rather than relying on Google. I think some of these resources have gotten even better since the pandemic and some of us were forced to get healthcare from home full-time.
I've used our "patient portal" a lot. It takes just as much time to write a message through my doctor's portal as it would to Google something. I can even add photos of rashes, tick bites, etc. and our own doctor is able to look at it and I hear back within a few hours. Not all offices offer this, but I'm guessing more have implemented it since the pandemic.
Also, our health insurance offers a complimentary 24/7 nurse line. It's really helpful when you're unsure if you need to seek in-person care. We also have the option to do a televisit with a doctor for things like colds, flu, UTIs, stomach bug, etc. It's much more affordable than a regular visit and you can get one within minutes.
Again, these might not be available to everyone, but they are worth looking into!
Stay off of Dr. Google! That's my advice. As a self-proclaimed hypochondriac, medical websites never lead down a good path. Yes, they can be useful for little problems especially once you know the problem. But instead I would make sure you have a great pediatrician who doesn't mind answering questions at odd hours. Our doc is wonderful and is very open about how she would rather we consult her than a website. Her own website has lots of practical advice on it already and she is available (or someone at her office is anyway) 24/7. I love the internet, but when it comes to the health of our son, I prefer a human giving me the info I need.
I can completely understanding why parents use the internet to try and find solutions their child's medical concerns. The problem lies with the fact that not only is there so much information out there, but unless you are a medical professional, you have not been trained to make a diagnosis. A headache can be caused by anything from slight dehydration or a bump on the head to a brain tumour, and as untrained professionals, parents are not always equipped with the skills that allow them to discern the difference.
In my experience, the internet is very helpful once you have already received a diagnosis. You can find out more about a diagnosed condition and you can find support and information about prescribed medication. Likewise, there are medical websites that can advise you whether symptoms are serious enough to warrant a visit to your doctor.
While I do not generally advocate on relying on Dr Google for medical advice or diagnosis, I personally have found the Mayo Clinic Patient Care and Health information portal very informative - https://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-care-and-health-information
MedlinePlus (medlineplus.gov) contains information from the National Libraries of Medicine and also contains trustworthy information and the CDC website contains plenty of information on many common and uncommon medical conditions.
I would aways advise caution when a website is owned or managed by only one individual, especially where they advocate only one type of treatment or where they use their website to promote their own products.