The Internet has radically changed how we source and think about advice on medical or health matters.
“Dr Google” is a double-edged character, though, as you can look up a headache and diagnose yourself with a brain tumour in under a minute! There are ways in which you can get sensible advice online, however.
If You Hear Hoofbeats, Expect Horses, not Zebras
This is one of the best pieces of medical advice out there. It means if there’s a particular symptom (hoofbeats), it points to the most likely cause (horses) rather than the least likely zebras). That headache? It’s probably dehydration or muscle tension, not an inoperable growth that’s going to cut you down in your prime. Drink a glass of water, relax and see if the pain’s still there in half an hour.
Medical Advice Shouldn’t be Put to the Vote
As tempting as it is to take to your favourite social networking site to see what your chums make of your rash, putting your ailment to the vote isn’t the best policy. You’ll get a range of answers from “Ah – you’re allergic to your washing powder…” to “My granny’s neighbour’s friend’s cousin had that same rash and she swelled up and DIED the next day!” In the middle there’ll be people telling you to see your doctor, which is what you should do, as he or she trained for quite a few years and all doctors love a good rash!
General Health Advice is a Bit More Free and Easy
The best time to get health advice is before you’re ill! As another medical saying goes, prevention is better than cure and most of today’s ills – diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure – are caused primarily by lifestyle. If you read a few of the top health and nutrition blogs and look past whatever diet scheme is in vogue at the time you’ll spot the same themes – reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates you eat, exercise a bit each day, watch your fat intake and eat your greens. You don’t need a medical degree to dispense this advice and you don’t have to delve too deeply into the rationale behind it to follow it.
Qualified Medical Advice Online Does Exist
There are a few sites on which trained doctors and other healthcare professionals give their time and advice, so make sure you visit a reputable site if you’re looking for help. These sites will only deal with minor complaints, like cystitis, for example, and give visitors advice or instructions that they can follow at home. As always, if the advisers think there’s a more serious problem, they’ll suggest an in-person visit to a doctor or hospital.