Few among us haven’t raced to the Internet to find out what’s behind that weird ankle tingling or incessant stomach grumbling. And we’ve all found conflicting, if not downright strange advice at times. So how do you know what’s an accurate website? What’s reliable? What’s up to date? Turns out it’s “buyer beware” when it comes to health information online.
“Getting your medical information from websites can be tricky,” says Yael Varnado, MD, a physician in Washington, D.C., who shares timely content on her own website. “Though we all love our favorite magazines and sister sites online, they’re not always the best resources for health information.”
Criteria For a Trustworthy Health Site
When you visit a website, begin by taking a look at the “About Us” page. However, you’ll discover if it’s run by a government organization, a university, a health organization, a hospital—or a company looking to sell a line of products. Moreover, if it’s company looking to sell stuff, move on. They’re likely to skew information to get you to press the “buy” button.
It’s always a safe bet to start with association sites, including the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association sites. “These are an excellent place to begin learning more, especially if you’re been recently diagnosed with a disease,” Dr. Varnado says.
Always make sure the information on the site is current—not from a paper issued in 1986—and that it’s been vetted by a pro before it’s posted, adds Shilpi Agarwal, MD, a family medicine and integrative medicine physician in Los Angeles. Look for a line at the end of the article that says “Reviewed by… ” and it should be an MD, RD, PhD or other credentialed expert.
Read on to discover four doctor-vetted sites to visit next time you have an ache or pain that just won’t quit.
“This is one of my other favorite sites because it’s very comprehensive, includes prevention and wellness tips, and you can get easy-to-understand information without a lot of fluff or advertisements.” —Dr. Agarwal, MD
“This site, from the world-renowned clinic, organizes information easily, including A-Z guides to Symptoms, Diseases, and Conditions, Tests & Procedures and Drugs & Supplements.” —Dr. Varnado
Visit this site, type in your question and you can chat with a real doctor about your health issue. You’ll connect with an expert—live—who can help you right away.” —Dr. Agarwal
“This site provides valuable health information, tools for managing your health and support. Plus, the format is easy-to-read.”—Dr. Agarwal
Lambeth Hochwald is a New York City-based reporter who covers healthy living.
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