These days many people are turning to the internet and self diagnosing their own illnesses, before they ever reach for the telephone to make an appointment with their GP. This new trend could be worrying and possibly dangerous but is it any different from looking up ailments in an old healthcare encyclopedia? I remember when we were children, we had a Reader’s Digest health book that was duly bought out everytime one of us kids got sick. It was pored over until the ‘correct’ diagnosis was made, and then one of my parents would make a trip up to the nearest chemist. So what is so different about using your computer, iPad or smartphone to give you a heads up when it comes to getting more information about what is making you unwell? Well, unfortunately, as is the case with many websites, including Wikipedia, which some people take as complete fact, not realising that this site is written by the general public, anyone can post information on the internet, it does not mean it is true or authentic. Your best bet if you do not want to trouble your GP at this early stage is to consult a pharmacist, who will have much more knowledge and be able to either prescribe or advise a doctors visit.
Luckily there are a few websites that you can trust on the internet, that have a good reputation and are backed by national institutions. Here are our five of the best:
Possibly the best health care website in the UK at present. The NHS tackles every health problem you can think of, explains your role and the NHS, what you are entitled to, for example it breaks down dentist charges, it gives advice on getting fit and staying healthy and shows you where your local practitioners are situated. It’s flagship tool however, is the ‘LifeCheck’ system, in which you can answer questions about your lifestyle to see how it might be affecting your overall health.
Patient.co.uk is a very well set out website that explores a different ailment in detail each week. This week is Migraine Week, with tips, features and reader experiences to browse through. You can review the discussion boards, read up on clinical guidelines and even buy medical equipment and pharmacy supplies through this innovative site. You can also book appointments and renew prescriptions, once you have registered on this website.
NetDoctor have an A to Z of ailments and expert advice from esteemed doctors such as Dr David Delvin. This is an independent health website with a difference. You can watch health videos on specific health concerns, join in discussions and add your own worries for advice, and talk about patients real experiences of their own ailments. Gives tips and advice on mental health problems as well as physical.
The Boots website covers a wide range of health topics that you might not normally see in other healthcare websites. For instance, if you have a mammogram booked you might want to watch a video of exactly what it entails during the appointment, or you can read up on specific side effects from certain drugs and there are interesting articles on subjects such as The Worst Shoes for your Feet and Surprising Headache Triggers.
With a health and fitness assessment taken by Olympian Mo Farrar, you too can get fitter by logging onto BUPA and seeing how you can improve your general overall health and wellbeing. There are also Health Risk Assessments to see what sort of illnesses you could be at risk from, due to your present lifestyle choices, online calculators to work out your health age and you can re-familiarise yourself with what the correct drinking levels are for men and women.