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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Trustworthy Medical Websites

Thanks to the Internet, we have the ability to find the answers to many medical problems before we visit the doctor's office. Many medical research websites are now accessible and ready to share medical advice that will help you diagnose your every ailment. The websites with medical advice that you visit could give you valuable information and may help you decide what questions to ask when you visit your doctor.

So how do you know which sites are trustworthy? The last thing you want to do is get advice from someone who isn't qualified. Look for websites where registered doctors are the key source of information. Places like WebMD and HealthAtoZ have specific doctors who approve all of the content, assuring that you get the most accurate information. Here's a list of trustworthy sites for you to check out. Remember, these sites do not replace a professional doctor's diagnosis. Do not begin your own medical treatment without talking to your doctor.

  • Alternative Medicine is a great resource for alternative medicines. It includes articles from doctors and medical practitioners and some creative alternatives to common medicines.
  • WebMD contains thousands of articles on diseases and how to stay healthy. You can go through a mini-test to check out if that sore throat is really just a sore throat, or if it could be something worse. The test is divided for men and women, to give a more accurate diagnosis.

  • The Mayo Clinic website uses a similar symptom checker and contains an "Ask the Specialist" section, where you can ask doctors specific medical questions.

  • offers a crash course in first aid treatment for the most common emergencies like choking or bee stings.

  • is another website filled with medical suggestions, tips and advice. Use it as a resource when you need a second opinion.

  • The RX List website offers current prescription information, including a list of side effects for many drugs.

If you need someone to talk to about your current medical problems, you may want to visit an online support group. Online support groups are there for you if you don't have time to visit a live group, or you just prefer to remain anonymous. You can exchange emails and posts about your questions, get answers, and provide support for others. Support Path provides a list of the most popular support groups that you can find on the Internet. You can also check out Google's Support Groups for a list of some of the more common support groups.

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Symptom Checker

Have you ever gotten a sore throat or an ear ache and wondered why? Or even more, what it could be a symptom of? I most certainly have. So, I like to go and look at a symptom checker like this one from the Mayo Clinic to see what's going on.

When the page loads, you'll notice that there is one side for Adults and one for Children. Choose the appropriate side for the person you are checking the symptoms for and then look at the list of symptoms to choose the one that matches.

This will take you to a page for that symptom where you will fill in the checkboxes for everything that applies. It is normally divided up into sections. The most common being: Symptom is, Triggered By, Accompanied by, Relieved by and Pattern. Go through each section for your symptom and be honest in your answers. Then click Submit.

It will then load a page of diseases and conditions that your symptoms match, as well as, information on the disease, what symptoms matched each disease and when you should seek urgent medical care.

Flu (Influenza) Information from the CDC

It's a bad flu season, so check this website from the Center for Disease Control for weekly flu activity reports, ways to prevent flu, symptoms and treatment, and advice for parents, schools and childcare providers, employers, etc.

Click this link to learn more about the flu from the CDC.

Now remember, this is only a guide and it shouldn't serve as a diagnosis for a condition. It's sort of just to point you in the right direction and let you know when to seek professional health care!

Click this link to visit the Symptom Checker at the Mayo Clenic.

Health Hotlines from The National Library of Medicine

The National Library of Medicine offers this searchable, browsable online database of health-related organizations that operate toll-free telephone services.

Click this link to visit the Health Hotlines from the NLM:

Google Health

Lots of people search the internet to self-diagnose health problems, look up medications, and find doctors and hospitals, and Google hopes to consolidate all that info for you in Google Health. Enter your medical conditions, allergies, medications, test results, and more into Google Health, a personalized one-stop shop for health and medical information. You can even import your medical records from hospitals and pharmacies (like Walgreen's or Longs Drugs), and Google Health will show you drug interactions based on your medicine list and notices from various health organizations based on your profile. If you're willing to hand over your medical profile to the big G in the name of convenient info, Google Health is for you. The more privacy-minded, of course, may refrain.

Click this link to visit Google Health.

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