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Tuesday June 25, 2024

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Finding Reliable Health Information Online

How can I determine if the health information on a website is trustworthy? I typically research a symptom, drug or health condition online. However, with so much information out there, I am not sure what I can trust.

There is an abundance of health advice on the internet today and it can be hard to tell what is credible. To help you sort through the advice and locate reliable, trustworthy health information, here are a few tips to follow, and top-rated websites you can turn to with confidence.

Savvy Searching

First, know that online search engines are not always the best place to start. You will increase your odds of finding reliable health information if you begin with websites run by government agencies (identified by URLs ending in .gov), medical associations (often .org) or academic institutions (.edu).

Commercial websites (usually ending in .com), such as drug or insurance companies may not have the most reliable or up-to-date information. To find out who sponsors a website and the source of its information, click on the "About Us" tab on the website's home page. Also, note that good health and medical information often changes, so it is always best to check the publication date to ensure the information is current.

Other areas to be wary of include online symptom checkers and artificial intelligence (AI) tools. While online symptom checkers may be a convenient resource for health questions, they are oftentimes inaccurate and can lead to misdiagnosis, and possibly delay necessary medical care. AI tools, like ChatGPT, can also be incorrect or generate false but scientific-sounding information.

You also need to be cautious about medical information sourced from social media and online forums. Comments in these places may sound authoritative but the authors may have no medical training or expertise.

Top Health Websites

While there are many excellent websites that provide reliable health and medical information, one all-purpose website that is recommended by Consumer Reports for researching symptoms and conditions is MedlinePlus (medlineplus.gov).

A service of the National Library of Medicine, the world's largest medical library, and part of the National Institutes of Health, MedlinePlus provides high-quality, trustworthy health and wellness information that is easy to understand and free of advertising.

Here are a few additional websites to help you find reliable information on specific diseases, conditions and treatments.

Cancer: National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov), American Cancer Society (cancer.org) and National Comprehensive Cancer Network (nccn.org).

Heart disease: American Heart Association (americanheart.org), National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (nhlbi.nih.gov).

Diabetes: American Diabetes Association (diabetes.org).

Alzheimer's disease: Alzheimer's Association (alz.org) and Alzheimers.gov.

Public health and vaccines: Center for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov).

Alternative medicine: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (nccih.nih.gov) and the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements (ods.od.nih.gov).

To receive the best medical treatment for your specific needs, consult with a qualified medical provider. Be sure to save or print any research you do online before seeing a doctor, including the website you got your information from, in case you wish to review it with your doctor.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.


Published June 21, 2024
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