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Doctor on Call: Your Guide to Online Healthcare

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Today's technology makes it easy to point and click your way to any health info you need. But is what you find online reliable? Here's how you can find the right doctor and manage your healthcare online.

Getting Health Information Online

About five months ago, I woke up with a tickle in my throat. I didn't feel sick and my temperature was normal, but every time I swallowed, it felt as if a grain of sand were stuck somewhere near my tonsils. I looked in the mirror and said aah -- and to my surprise, I saw a row of six bumps on the back of my tongue.

I freaked.

Thought number one: I had contracted some bizarre STD of the mouth (even though I was in a long-term monogamous relationship). Thought number two: Oh my gosh, it must be throat cancer (although I hadn't touched a cigarette in ages).

I canceled my date with the stairclimber and headed straight for my computer, where I typed "bumps on tongue" into Google. I jabbed "enter" and 934,000 Web pages popped up. After clicking through message boards on which similarly freaked-out people had written in about the exact same problem, this is what I learned. According to the Internet, I had enlarged circumvallate papillae taste buds, a term used to describe bumps that form a small V where your tongue meets your throat and apparently swell from time to time for no good reason. I double-checked in the mirror to make certain that mine formed a V, and sure enough, they did. My heartbeat slowed and I decided I'd make it to the gym after all (and that I didn't have to waste my time or money on a doctor's appointment).

According to a study by Manhattan Research, a drug and healthcare market-research company, 145.7 million Americans went online in 2008 for health-related reasons, and 70 percent of those surfers consulted the Internet for health information at least monthly.

Now the Web is expanding into new terrain: assessing not only your potential illnesses but also the physicians you pay to prescribe a cure. Just a few clicks and you're able to uncover some decent dirt on your doc -- his med-school track record, papers published, comments from peers. But as with online health advice, knowing which sites are reputable and which are based on rumor is key.

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jstrong196 wrote:

I appreciate you sharing this info! My wife is really into fitness, and is always looking for ways to improve her workouts and the food she eats. I've never been on board with it, but I'm starting to really like it, and am trying to learn more about it. This has some really good insights that I think she would like to look at. I'll have to show her when I get home, thanks so much for sharing this! Jason |

4/4/2014 01:03:33 PM Report Abuse
jensmott wrote:

Online health care can be a great resource to find out health issues when a doctor isn't on call. Looking up information about your symptoms can really give you some information about why you are feeling that way and how you can feel better. Just make sure not to freak yourself out if you diagnose it incorrectly! It's easy to panic if you think you have a sickness you actually don't have. Jensen |

3/24/2014 04:45:48 PM Report Abuse
jimstout7878 wrote:

This was a really good read. It is amazing how many ways there are to lose weight. I need to go to the gym more.

2/4/2014 09:38:41 AM Report Abuse
seamuslowe53 wrote:

I'm always a little wary of these websites. Sometimes they just tell you something that it's not even closely related to. -Seamus |

1/17/2014 10:39:58 AM Report Abuse
a3984502 wrote:

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6/18/2012 03:30:39 AM Report Abuse

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