disease

How to search online information about any disease : important tips for patients.

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Online search for disease and health related information , is the primary method used by everyone to learn about health and disease. There are some excellent online sources for such type of information , where as most others are inaccurate , incomplete and often plain advertisements. These are important tips for online search for any medical conditions so that you can have accurate information from credible source.

Content 

  1. Define what you want to know after online search.

Infectious disease, also known as transmissible disease or communicable disease, is illness resulting from an infection.” Like malaria, HIV, Tb, Denue

 Diseases linked with the way people live their life. Diseases that impact on our lifestyle are heart disease, stroke, obesity , type II diabetes and more.

The term mental illness refers collectively to all diagnosable mental disorders—health conditions characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior associated with distress or impaired functioning.”

  • Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is a patterned use of a drug in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others, and is a form of substance-related disorder.
  • Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences.

1. Define what you want to know after online search.

Is it information about a disease condition / treatment method ?

OR

You want to know what disease you have ?

If you are on internet to know what disease you have,  based on what complains you are having , than you are at wrong place. You should better  be in a doctors clinic.

If you have fever for last 3 days , it will be a expensive mistake to search internet whether you have typhoid or dengue ?

Just to learn  this supposedly  simple trick, it takes a doctor more than ten years ( 6 years MBBS , 3 years MD/MS and than 3 years post PG residency ). Even after that , all he/she can do, is  to take a good guess, which needs some diagnostic tests to confirm. You may still have dengue, even if the tests are showing positive for typhoid. 

Clinical practice is a imperfect science, you should let your doctor handle it.

If everything has to be left to the doctor, than what should you search online ?

Now since you have seen the doctor , and he says that he is suspecting ,you to have dengue, than you are fit to start your search online.

Your natural curiosity will be to know 

  1. What exactly is the disease ? (Diagnosis)
  2. Why did you get it and how you could have avoided it ? (Prevention)
  3. What is its current management ? (Treatment)
  4. What can you do from your side to get well soon? (Prevention)
  5. What is the usual outcome of patients having this disease? ( Prognosis)
  6. Are there any long term effects ? ( Prognosis)

2. infections or infectious diseases.

Wikipedia defines as “Infection is the invasion of an organism’s body tissues by disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host tissues to the infectious agents and the toxins they produce. Infectious disease, also known as transmissible disease or communicable disease, is illness resulting from an infection.”

The best websites for information regarding these disease is .

Patient related information

Public health related information 

  • Wikipedia gives you more or less the complete information regarding all aspects of diseases from causes to treatment and outcome.
  •  It provides the list of contents which you can search for what exactly you are looking for.
  • The information is very accurate and updated.
  • The information is unbiased and is updated by people without any financial interest.
  • If you are interested in how tuberculosis is diagnosed in a patient, it provides an accurate details of the current medical practice guidelines.
  • The best part of the Wikipedia is that , it also gives links to the details of the scientific terminologies given in the text.
  • Often people do not know the medical terminologies , so have problem in understanding the text. You can open the links and understand what that word means. 
  • Beside addressing important issues like , treatment , disease course and outcome, the last part of the page is dedicated to the current research going on the topic.
  • Further down the page,  it has references which show that the information is sourced from highly credible resources.

3. lifestyle disease.

Lifestyle diseases are defined by Wikipedia as “diseases linked with the way people live their life. Diseases that impact on our lifestyle are heart disease, stroke, obesity and type II diabetes.

  • Life style disorders like diabetes, blood pressure, obesity  are very common in US. 
  • The US health agency CDC offered one of the finest and well organised content on this topic. Its written for public use. Its accurate, updated and unbiased.

The best websites for information regarding lifestyle disease are in this order.

  • On topics like diabetes , hypertension and other life style disorder , it provides the best information available online in a way which is well organised, east to search and understand by a person having no previous knowledge of medicine or medical terminologies.. 
  • If you are a diabetic and searching for diabetes, it offers almost every thing you need to know.
  • It has detailed index/content tool bar, which gives you access to plenty of information, actually everything you need to know.
  • If you are looking for diabetes, the tool bar on left side shows all the subheading under diabetes and the commonly searched options are prominently displayed as buttons ( solid red arrow).

In the segment , ” type 2 diabetes” , it gives all the relevant details a patient might need. Like 

  • How you can manage your diabetes ?
  • How to check your blood sugar ?
  • What are the complications of diabetes?
  •  What should be done to avoid them ?

 So forth and so on.

  • It provide information about,  from,  routine for better management of diabetes  to prevention of  diabetes complications.
  •  In complications it elaborate the each and every complication possible, even the ways you can avoid those.
  • You get the point; it’s the best site for patient related information of the health related issues.

 

www.who.org another excellent site for information about health related disorders. You can search from the alphabetic list provided or the popular search topics.

If you searching for Nipah virus,

  • Left side tool bar ( vertical red arrow )  provide all the information about the disease .
  • Right sided tool bar (horizontal red arrow)provide the information about other related medical conditions.
  • www.who.org is the best site to look for if you are interested in the public heath related information like recent outbreak or the current research on the issue.
  • Beside the Wikipedia and the CDC , another excellent website for the above conditions is
  • www.nhsinform.scot

www.nhsinform.scot allows you to search by complains ( sign and symptoms ) , which is great help as most of the patients may not know the exact name of the disease.

  • If you are looking for say “back ache ” , website will provide you with the articles to explain what exactly is this problem .
  • The website also provide you with a guides to help yourself. 
  • Left sided tool bar covers related subjects, topics and even subtopics in every topic.
  • The SELF HELP GUIDE provide you  detailed instructions in a form of video or slide share. 

4. Mental, Psychological and Psychiatric disorders

  • US has a large segment of the population having issues regarding mental health, and so US government funded organisations like NIH provided one of the best information regarding these disorders.
  • The best website to search for mental health related issues, is www.nimh.nih.gov
  • Its home page shows the options of various mental health issues, that one may be searching for . 
  • It even has segments for related topics , therapy and treatments.
  •  It has segments for special populations like diseases related to children , elderly etc.
  • If you are looking for information regarding Depression , it has segments like sign and symptoms and treatment options.
  • Option “join a study” gives you the information how and where one can find a clinical trail on this disease to participate as patient.

5. Addictions and substance abuse

  • Wikipedia defines as “Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is a patterned use of a drug in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others, and is a form of substance-related disorder. Widely differing definitions of drug abuse are used in public health, medical and criminal justice contexts. In some cases criminal or anti-social behavior occurs when the person is under the influence of a drug, and long term personality changes in individuals may occur as well. In addition to possible physical, social, and psychological harm, use of some drugs may also lead to criminal penalties, although these vary widely depending on the local jurisdiction.”
  • Wikkipedia defines as “Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences.[8] Despite the involvement of a number of psychosocial factors, a biological process – one which is induced by repeated exposure to an addictive stimulus – is the core pathologythat drives the development and maintenance of an addiction. The two properties that characterize all addictive stimuli are that they are reinforcing(i.e., they increase the likelihood that a person will seek repeated exposure to them) and intrinsically rewarding (i.e., they are perceived as being inherently positive, desirable, and pleasurable).”
  • Drug Abuse and Addiction is a serious problem in US and National institute for drug abuse provides the BEST   information of this issue .

6. Injury/ Accident / Trauma / Burn

  • Wikipedia defines as “Injury, also known as physical trauma, is damage to the body caused by external force.This may be caused by accidents, falls, hits, weapons, and other causes..  Major trauma is injury that has the potential to cause prolonged disability or death. “
  • Wikipedia defines as “An accident, also known as an unintentional injury, is an undesirable, incidental, and unplanned event that could have been prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been recognized, and acted upon, prior to its occurrence. Most scientists who study unintentional injury avoid using the term “accident” and focus on factors that increase risk of severe injury and that reduce injury incidence and severity.”
  • Wikipedia defines as “Trauma most often refers to:
  • Traumatic injury, sudden physical injury caused by an external force, which does not rise to the level of major trauma
  • Major trauma, in physical medicine, severe physical injury caused by an external source
  • Psychological trauma, a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event “
  • Wikipedia defines as “A burn is a type of injury to skin, or other tissues, caused by heatcoldelectricitychemicalsfriction, or radiation. Most burns are due to heat from hot liquids, solids, or fire…… Burns can also occur as a result of self harm or violence between people.”

A good website to provide information on these  issues is www.healthdirect.gov.au.

The website has the option of checking your conditions by selecting the options on display.

  • The “SYMPTOMS CHECKER ” offers the option of self assessment of your own conditions to see what should you do next.
  • For example, If you have head injury and you want to check what d do next, go to START SYMPTOM CHECKER and select the option of head injury from the list arranged alphabetically. 
  • It ask you a set of preformed question with multiple options as answer.
  • Most of the questions are either yes /no types or have multiple options to choose. 
  • Options are easy to understand or have icon for explaining it if required.
  • Once you have answered all the questions , it advise you , what to do next.
  • The advise include how you can take care or yourself, what are the issues you should look for, whetheryou immediately consult the doctor or you can afford to delay it etc.

7. Surgery / Surgical procedure / Medical procedure

  • Fee for surgery /surgical procedures / medical procedures are primary earning source for most of the hospitals /clinics. The websites directly related to the hospitals/clinic or those which engaged in doctor/  hospital search  have basic information about the procedures/surgeries done there . This is to attract the attention of those searching for surgical / medical procedures.
  • Obviously purpose of providing the information is to help you  to  make up your mind to buy the services/product being sold on or through the websites.
  • Its not that these websites provide false information , but often the information is not accurate and lack details. All medical and surgical procedures and treatment have side effects , complications and failures associated with them. The details of these down sides of the surgery/ procedures may not  of be fairly displayed as these may scare the potential patients away. So if you want to actually know about the details of the procedure , its complications and failures rates, the websites of hospitals and  doctor search websites, are not the good options.
  • In this regards , websites like Wikipedia, NIH and sites related to teaching hospitals and institutions are the best, as they do not have a conflict of interest in sharing information regarding  different aspect of disease and treatment.
  • For example , if you search for term, ” kidney transplant” ,  on the google home page.
  • This is top third of the google  search page. It shows mostly the information websites . Wikipedia and the similar websites are best if you are interested in  patients related information,like disease, treatment , course, research etc. 
  • These sites do not provide details about cost, doctor or hospitals.
  • If you are interested in knowing how, exactly the surgery or procedures are done , than the middle part of google page provide the videos , which have animation and real life footage of actual surgery.
  • At last google list the website which are sponsored or belong to hospitals or  actual service provides. The site which is sponsored are explicitly tagged as ” Ad” by google.
  • These are websites are best to decide where to have the procedures done. Hospital websites provide the details of the doctor and the procedures/surgeries you are looking for. Cost of the procedure are not directly displayed on the website, but they provide phone numbers for contact/ inquiry. You can call them to get the idea how much the procedure and surgery cost at their hospitals, including the usual duration of stay in the hospital for that procedure.

CLOSING : There are many good websites to search for health and disease related information. These sites are fewer in number as compared to commercial websites engaged in sales, marketing and advertisements of the health related product and services. Its the discretion of the user to chose which is the correct site to search. it is advisable to go for websites which do not have any economic interest in the health  or disease related information they are providing.

 

Please share your views on the issue in the comments segment given below. Kindly share it with others if you find this information useful.

Scientific studies report that most individuals (81%) say that they “learned something new” regarding their health, the last time they went online. The majority (80%) of people found the information through a search engine as reliable.

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