Health information: Reliable, free, easy to understand

Would you go to your doctor to find out why the brakes on your car are making so much noise? Would you go to your friendly neighborhood mechanic for diagnosis and treatment of a serious heart problem? I’ll just crawl out on a limb here and say, “probably not.” And that begs the question, “why not?”

Really. Why wouldn’t you see a doctor about your car problems? Because smart as your doctor is, he or she has little if any training or experience fixing cars. Same for the mechanic. Great with cars. Doesn’t know squat about heart problems. Seems like common sense.

Yet every day millions of people cruise the internet looking for health care information and advice, and they find it. But who is on the other side of that website pushing those ideas? Is it health care providers and scientists with decades of training and experience? Or is it a guy who dropped out of school and decided to make a fast buck promoting wacky health ideas that would be right at home in the National Enquirer? Typically, we don’t know and can’t know.

Good news! This is a problem with a solution. There are websites on the internet supported by health care organizations with national and international reputations. At those sites you can be certain that the health information you get comes from trained and experienced health care professionals. True, they probably don’t know much about car repair, but they have spent much of their lives learning about medicine and providing health care.

Mayo Clinic Mayo Clinic is the largest integrated not-for-profit medical group practice in the world. Mayo has more No. 1 rankings than any other hospital in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. It is my first stop when I am looking for medical and health care info.

Grab your computer, open your browser, and go to http://www.mayoclinic.org. Click on the “Health Library” menu at the top. That’s where you start exploring “Diseases and Conditions,” “Symptoms,” “Drugs and Supplements,” “Healthy Lifestyle,” and more. Poke around to your heart’s content.

MedlinePlus MedlinePlus is an online health information resource for patients and their families and friends. MedlinePlus is a service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world's largest medical library, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The organization’s mission is to present high-quality, relevant health and wellness information that is trusted, easy to understand and free of advertising, in both English and Spanish. Anywhere, anytime, on any device—for free. Use your computer browser to visit http://www.medlineplus.gov.

Alaska Medical Library Achy and scratchy eyeballs because you are spending too much time searching for stuff on the computer? How about talking with a real person at the Alaska Medical Library, located inside the UAA Consortium Library. Wander around and scope out the Natural Medicines database, the Arctic Health database, and more. Call 1-888-997-7878 and talk to a real person to answer questions about available resources. After your eyeballs are rested, access the online resources hosted by the Library at http://www.consortiumlibrary.org/aml. There is a simple one-time registration process, but then their world is yours.

Healthline Healthline is a private for-profit health information business. They do have advertisements, but they also have a reputation for a wide variety of reliable health care information. Their material is easy to read and engaging, like magazine articles.

“Healthline covers all facets of physical and mental health openly and objectively because we’re here for the whole person —for your whole life. And because people come to us with unique challenges, we listen closely and put empathy first across our organization. We hope you tap into all Healthline’s resources—from our health and wellness library and newsletters to our apps, podcasts and communities.” Visit online at http://www.healthline.com.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) During the last few years the CDC was a victim of mean-spirited political attacks targeting its national and international credibility. The fact is that the CDC remains to this day the international gold standard resource for public health research and education. And you have full access to it.

Visit the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov. At the top of the home page click on “Health Topics” for comprehensive information on diseases and conditions, healthy living, workplace safety, environmental health, injury, violence and safety, global health, and more. Planning international travel? Click on “Travelers’ Health” at the top of the home page. Travel safely.

Do your best to stay healthy.

Lawrence D. Weiss is a UAA Professor of Public Health, Emeritus, creator of the UAA Master of Public Health program, and author of several books and numerous articles.

Author Bio

Lawrence D. Weiss is a UAA Professor of Public Health, Emeritus, creator of the UAA Master of Public Health program, and author of several books and numerous articles.

 
 
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