In-depth medical website information is just a click away

In fact, not every health situation demands a doctor’s office. A quick medical help online search can save you time and money. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “80 percent of otherwise healthy people have used the internet to self-diagnose their illnesses at least once.”

There are many sites offering free medical help online, giving you full access to a wealth of medical information for prevention, treatment, clinical trials and research, publications, prescription drugs, videos, confirmed medical diagnosis (after seeking a physician’s input), safety and health tips as well as news.

Some, like the Stanford Health Video Library, offers video programs where you can hear noteworthy doctors speak on anything from ears, nose, and throat to geriatrics and from blood and lymphatic systems to urology. The Stanford Health Video Library presents the latest medical information free for the public.

Others, like Zipnosis, offer online diagnosis and treatment in less than one hour. Just log on and get answers to health care questions from a board-certified physician. The fee is $25, much less than some insurance deductibles.

Sites like these are handy if you have cut yourself or had a mild allergic reaction; however, they are never meant to take the place of a doctor’s medical diagnosis.

It is important what you should know when using medical websites like these:

1. Your diagnosis could be wrong due to a lack of proper education and understanding. Some patients have misdiagnosed when the condition was more serious than they had anticipated.

2. Be wary of chronic online diagnosing. You could become stressed over something that isn’t what you think it is. Only a doctor can give you the peace of mind you need in dealing with the medical issue.

3. Make sure to always keep regular check-ups on your schedule. These include vaccines and OBGYN exams.

4. There may be a community-based clinic in your area that offers quality treatment for less money. In fact, they may offer a sliding scale option or free health care for qualifying patients.

Some sites like WebMD offer a Symptom Checker. Simply fill in your sex, age, symptoms and the medical diagnosis category will give you possibilities and the likelihood of those options. When you click on an option, you will receive a list of symptoms, an overview, what to expect, common ailments, treatment, self-care tips, negative reactions, some questions to ask your doctor as well as risk factors.

WebMD is careful to state the following disclaimer, “This tool does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It 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. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

Many medical websites are independently run and continuously reviewed to give you the most accurate information to date from health professionals.

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