Authoritative sources, ease of use vital in a Web site
Web sites covering all manner of health and medical information are more than readily available.
The problem is picking out good ones from the not so good, and the just plain bad.
One trick for doing so: Stick with authoritative sources. (Ease of use doesn't hurt either).
Hard to get more authoritative than MEDLINEplus, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus, from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, which covers topics from abdominal pain to Yersinia and is searchable in a variety of ways. The Web site also includes a section all about prescription and over-the-counter medications and a medical encyclopedia and medical dictionary, among many other things.
The National Institutes of Health site at health.nih.gov serves as a consumer health and medical information portal, searchable but also broken into useful, Yahoo-style categories like Brain and Nervous System and Food, Nutrition and Metabolism.
The Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov, also maintains a collection of health and medical information that's searchable and organized topically in categories such as diseases and conditions and workplace safety and health.
Kids can get in the act at www.bam.gov, the CDC's kid-oriented, colorful and cartoonish site for youngsters covering topics like food and nutrition, physical activity and safety (as in put on that bike helmet, buster).
The site at www.kidshealth.org has something for the whole family, with children's health information tailored for use by parents, teens and preteens. A daily Q&A tackles questions such as: When can young kids start exercising?
For cancer information in specific, the logical starting place is www.cancer.gov from the National Institute of Cancer, which offers information ranging from basic primers on cancer and its various types to the latest research results.
Consumer guides to finding physicians and medical facilities are among the things available at www.healthfinder.gov, a combined portal to and search site for health and medical information from a variety of federal sources, including many of those listed above.
The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and many other state and national medical groups make online resources available at medem.com/MedLB/medlib_entry.cfm. The site starts with broad topics broken into various stages of life to get you clicking down to more specific subjects such as common vision and eye problems.
The American Academy of Family Physicians offers a lot of plain-English (or Spanish), family-oriented and practical health information at familydoctor.org. Topics include things like flu shots, quitting smoking, breast cancer, athlete's foot and heart disease.
The venerable Mayo Clinic lets you ask questions to be fielded by Mayo specialists who post their answers at www.mayoclinic.com, along with a plethora of other information broken into sections including Live Well and Manage a Condition.
Aetna Insurance Co. funds InteliHealth, www.intelihealth.com, but the content is provided independently by no less than Harvard Medical School and ranges from advice on weight management to feature packages about cutting-edge topics such as the science of genetic testing.
NetWellness, www.netwellness.org, from three Ohio universities (Cincinnati, Ohio State and Case Western Reserve) has information that could be helpful when you're sick, but also focuses on staying healthy in the first place. Like the Mayo site, it includes an ask-an-expert feature.
Looking for more? Check out caphis.mlanet.org/consumer, where the Chicago-based Medical Library Association, a national organization of medical school librarians and other health information professionals, lists its Top 100 health Web sites "you can trust."