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If The World Wide Web is Your Self Proclaimed Physician, Trouble Could be Just a Click Away

The internet which is a reservoir of information has done unimaginable wonders to industries and society.// In a society that is largely technology driven, ‘net’ working is the byword of the present age, with information available with a mere tap of the fingers. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the internet is being rummaged for solutions on several matters, even life and death issues pertaining to health.

While acknowledging that it is important to be well informed and aware about health issues, in order to take informed decisions, a recent study published in the Journal Chest has found that most patients diagnosed with lung cancer resorted to the internet for information regarding treatment strategies. The internet figured the first, above all other likely options - for instance speaking to family or friends, referring to medical journals, magazines, television, checking from medical libraries, as an information source.

Take the case of a 64-year-old woman whose story had been published by the medical journal Lancet. She had diagnosed herself with chronic fatigue syndrome and then used the internet to self-medicate with oral steroids which she procured over the internet. She had been altering the dosage herself over a four year period. The steroid use led to serious cataract in both the eyes and glaucoma, which are side effects that physicians are well aware of, but was not known to this lady.

Medicines purchased over the internet have no quality checks and may not impact the user in a manner that it claims. Moreover the drugs may have serious often irrevocable side effects which are seldom known to patients.

In the scenario, readers must use their discretion to sift authentic information and patronize sites that provide reliable information. Medical Journals of repute which have been in the business for many years have a standard review process, where other medical doctors actually evaluate and ratify the informa tion provided. This may not be the procedure followed by several sites. It will certainly pay to know about the company that has published information, by reading up the information on the company, usually available under the ‘About Us’ page. Finally, absorb the information published, only if it is based on findings from current studies. Always consult a physician for treatment and medication and never self medicate based on internet information.


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