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SteadyHealth celebrates its ninth birthday this month! That's almost a whole decade of helping you, our readers, in your process of educating yourself about any health issue at all. We've covered everything from kidney stones to pregnancy, and from nutrition and exercise to mental health. SteadyHealth has lasted this long and is still going strong because you care about your own health and want to play a proactive role in your medical care.
You may or may not have noticed the handsome disclaimer at the bottom the page. That disclaimer serves as a constant reminder that the information you find on SteadyHealth is intended for informative purposes only. You may use the things you read on this website to educate yourself, but you should never substitute SteadyHealth (or Dr Google) for a real appointment with a real doctor.
Only your doctor can make a diagnosis, prescribe medications, or provide medical treatment. But you — the patient — can help every step of the way, using SteadyHealth, other internet sources, books and peers as a tool. How?
Worried About Unusual Symptoms?
"Every menstrual period was hell, and I felt pelvic pressure most of the rest of the month too. I suspected there was something really wrong with me, and made an appointment with my doctor. He told me that menstrual pain was normal and that I should take painkillers to relieve the symptoms."
That is how one young woman's story began. Thankfully, it continues: "On an internet discussion board, I found out that other women with similar symptoms had been diagnosed with various conditions, like endometriosis and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Eventually, this led me to change doctors. I found one who did take me seriously, and I was diagnosed with mild endometriosis. If it wasn't for the internet, I could still be living in pain."
Many patient stories start in a similar way — because plenty of health conditions that do require treatment have vague, undefinable symptoms that can also be a normal part of life. Any person who is worried about their health should see a medical professional, and seek a second opinion if they are not satisfied with the care they receive. Before you do, it can really help to know which conditions match your symptoms. Of course, no person should conclude that they have cancer following a simple Google search, and the web shouldn't convince you that you can cure AIDS with herbs either. The keywords are "common sense".
Learning More About The Nature Of Your Condition
What if you (or a loved one!) have just been diagnosed with a condition that you know very little about? No matter how much your healthcare provider has told you about the illness you are suffering from or the issue you are dealing with, you will always have more questions. This is where self-education can be tremendously valuable.
Concretely, SteadyHealth, other health sites, and scientific studies that you can find on Google Scholar can give patients useful insights into the causes of their health condition, how the condition affects their body, and treatment options. When you look for information about health conditions on the internet, stick to the following rules:
Use your common sense and critical thinking skills. Don't believe everything you read, and always verify relevant information before you use it in your daily life. Evaluate the pros and cons of following certain advice, and discuss it with your doctor as well.
How reliable are your sources? Feel free to read every and any website you want to, as long as you are aware in which category it falls. Primary sources like scientific studies represent the most reliable information. They are also, unfortunately, often hard to understand. That's where websites that cite primary sources but are easier to read come in — like SteadyHealth. Sources that make outrageous claims without offering any evidence should clearly be used for entertainment only.
Delving into the details of your health condition by reading various materials makes you a proactive patient. Your doctor may not be aware of the latest studies, so if you want your doctor to act in accordance with the information you found, bring a copy of the study or document to your appointment.
Talking to others with the same health problem can be extremely beneficial. Folks who have been through the same thing and found solutions can save you a lot of time and hassle. Wherever possible, you should ask the other patient to provide you with their sources.