We are all continuously participating in the transformation of communication and interaction. Social Media has opened up doors for doctors and patients to engage in medical conversation that previous generations could have never imagined. In dentistry, for example, there are hundreds of blogs where you can essentially self diagnose an ailment based on the descriptions left by qualified medical professionals. Here are a few examples of the kind of dignified medical conversation found online.
The Importance of Verified Content
First, we need to address how important it is to make sure that the material you find online is both accurate and being produced by medical professionals. This is significant for a multitude of reasons. People have begun to rely heavily on self diagnosis. By using that term, it is not meant to imply that they are blindly diagnosing illnesses without reason, but doing so with the use of online medical help. For example, if something flew into your eye and you felt like it got stuck, you could google your symptoms and find out that you have a scratched cornea. Instead of dealing with prescription eye drops, you realize that the ailment will last only last 48 hours. You drive to the grocery store and pick up a pharmacist recommended eye drop lubricant and wait it out. While this is an example of an effective use of the online medium, placing too much emphasis on self diagnosis can be dangerous. Do not use these tools as a replacement for medical care, let them compliment medical advice.
A List of Good Medical Websites/Blogs
This is a list of the best general health websites that are available online. This list, along with many other health specific lists, was compiled by Consumer and Patient Health online. They believe that these websites will give you the most accurate medical information.
- Aetna Intelihealth
- The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center
- Hardin M.D.
- Mayo Clinic
Where Dentistry Should Fall In This Mix
Your oral health is incredibly important, so placing too much emphasis on self diagnosis through online medical websites is probably the wrong route to take. If you feel like you are having a toothache, use these websites to try and narrow down the root of the problem, but don’t leave your dentist out of the mix. Use the advice found online as a temporary solution before meeting with your doctor. Chances are, your dentist will be able to address your problem more thoroughly, as no two cases are ever the same. Causation is something that your dentist will also be able to discuss with you personally so that the ailment you have won’t become a recurring problem.
Online medical journals and websites are great tools, but they should not take place of medical professionals. Instead, they should work cohesively. Don’t over-emphasize online medical advice and don’t under-utilize your medical professional!
Dr. Shahram Arzegar is the head dentist at Lifetime Smiles Dentistry in Austin, Texas.