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Making Sure You Have The Right Diagnosis: Tips From An Internet-Savvy Patient

People generally have a sense there might be information on the Web that can help them when they are worried about their health. They also have a sense there is a LOT of information and some of it may be wrong. All of that is true. What is a strategy to find the good and avoid the bad?

This morning, I chatted with Mike Collins, host of “Charlotte Talks” on WFAE, public radio in Charlotte, North Carolina about The Web-Savvy Patient and some of my “Insider Tips” within. We talked at length about how you can get started looking for health information on the Web.

First of all, if you’re worried about your health, make sure you get an accurate diagnosis, and make sure that diagnosis is specific to you. Don’t be satisfied if your health care team tells you that you have a “thyroid problem.” Find out if it is hyperthyroidism or hypothryroidism. It makes a big difference. If you don’t know what you have you will find yourself wandering all over the Internet, discovering information that won’t be right for you. You might be lead to believe that you have a brain tumor, rather than a migraine induced by monthly hormones or the effects of too much coffee (we know that one here in Seattle!). So rule #1 is know the details of your diagnosis and if you don’t feel confident, recognizing some people are misdiagnosed, get a second opinion to confirm it. Then, and only then, should you start your search online.

There are many tips in my book about how to search for reliable information and I’ll blog about them as time goes on, but I invite you to share your tips too. What piece of advice did you receive that changed the course of your health care journey?

One other point about figuring out where to start looking for information on the Internet: Today there are many, many online communities of patients waiting to help – even for the rarest of conditions. That’s how I found out about Dr. Keating and the clinical trial that beat my leukemia. One great example is www.bensfriends.org. Ben Munoz is a whiz at developing web sites but he also almost died of a stroke caused by a brain aneuryism. After he recovered, Ben teamed with other tech whiz kids to an start online community for his condition and now has built communities for many others too. Now, if someone knows their diagnosis is a brain aneurysim they can get help from Ben and his friends online. But knowing what you are dealing with is the place to start.

Wishing you and your family the best of health!
Andrew

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*


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