We often turn to the internet for online medical advice – especially first-time parents. In a survey of more than 1,000 e-patients, more than half of the respondents find answers in online forums before visiting their doctors.
But is it safe to seek medical advice online? Without a doubt, turning to the internet for medical information is extremely convenient. Plus, you may get the answers you need in a few seconds; and hopefully, you or your family get relief almost immediately as well.
While it’s okay to search preliminary information online, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to make sure that you are getting credible information. Sites that appear on the first page of Google don’t automatically mean that they are the most credible. It’s especially important to consider this when you are looking for medical information for your child’s safety.
Sites that you should consult include Academic (.edu), Government (.gov), and medical and nonprofit organizations and institutions (.org). Since these sites are managed by a group of qualified teams and experts, you’ll get more reliable information.
Your due diligence doesn’t stop there. Besides the source, you also need to consider:
- Timeliness of the information. When the post was published? The medical industry is always changing and the information you may come across is no longer updated.
- Determine the source. Sometimes articles are based on published research. Check the source of the research.
- Last update. Medical sites usually include the date when the article was last updated. Don’t forget to check that as well.
It’s okay to check online sites you want to learn more about respiratory infections and other common illnesses your kids may encounter and when you want to prevent infections and take the necessary precautions.
Information online doesn’t consider other factors that are unique to you and your child’s situation. That’s why it’s crucial that you seek professional advice. You should visit the doctor when there is difficulty breathing, the symptoms are recurring or the symptoms are severe and worsening.
At the end of the day, the internet is a powerful tool for parents. Use it whichever way you can for your child’s safety, but always be vigilant of where the information comes from and how you use it.