Health and the Internet. Probably not two things that you’d normally associate with each other, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t already spend a lot of time online.

However, in 2020 the Internet is capable of so much, and this includes having the ability to improve your health and well-being. Although this might sound a little bit surprising, it’s one that’s becoming increasingly commonplace today.

While the Internet is an amazing platform, it should be used with caution, especially when it comes to health-related issues.

Untrustworthy and unreliable sources are easy to stumble upon, but with some handy tips, it can play a great role in keeping you healthy. Below, I’ve outlined five useful ways in which you can use the Internet to help with your health.

An Empowering Research Tool

A 2013 study found that one in three Americans have used the Internet to research medical information. This figure is probably even higher today. The growth of online medical databases has played a significant role in the increasing number of people researching health topics online.

These websites are packed full of detailed information around hundreds of different healthcare-related topics. Reliable databases are great sources that you can use to keep track of and manage your health and well-being.

However, some online databases are more reliable than others when it comes to the accuracy of the information they provide. Simply googling a medical condition or a symptom can leave you swarmed with an overwhelming amount of unverified and scary information.

This can make you even more worried about your health ailments. I recommend having a couple of reliable sources saved, such as WebMD or PubMed, and sticking to these reputable databases when researching online.

This will help to ensure that the information you’re getting is approved, saving you from being led down any wrong paths by inaccurate information.

But remember, you should always go to your doctor with any health worries. These websites can give you some extra information, but you shouldn’t rely on them for medical diagnoses.

Using the Internet as a Support System

Simply put, the Internet makes it easier to find someone to talk to. Information and knowledge are great; however, support is one of the most important factors when it comes to maintaining health and well-being.

The Internet can help with this through its variety of easy-to-use supportive networks. Joining these can feel unnerving at first, though, dedicated support groups allow you to connect with others who may be in a similar situation to you and therefore who understand what it is that you’re going through.

This is particularly useful for those suffering from chronic illnesses as you can use the Internet to connect with others who also have the condition. Whether you use the platform to ask questions, find out more information about the illness, or simply to share experiences, isn’t really important.

What’s important is that these communities can provide vital connections that can help you to feel supported and reassured during difficult times.

Handy Cost Comparisons to Avoid Overspending

Healthcare costs can be daunting. Thankfully though, the Internet is full of reliable resources when it comes to providing information on how much a treatment should cost. While low costs are good to have, it’s important to ensure that the care you receive is high-quality.

Looking at dental implants for example – a common dentistry treatment for patients over 60 – prices can vary significantly depending on the specific dentist that you visit.

Therefore, using the Internet to find dental implant cost guides and comparisons, can help to give you an idea of how much the treatment should cost when it’s performed by a highly-experienced, reputable dentist.

Contacting Your Doctor Online

An increasing number of doctors are using social media and other online platforms as a way to communicate with their patients. This has proved to be a vital resource throughout 2020, as lockdowns and restrictions have discouraged us from leaving our homes.

However, this can also be a useful tool during non-Covid times. Communicating with your doctor online is ideal if you’re just looking for some advice or an answer to a quick question.

This is also a great solution if you live far away from your doctor or if you’re unable to travel because of a medical condition for instance.

Doctors being reachable online is also something that ties into my first two points. For example, you can use a reliable medical database to find information and then have this quickly verified by your doctor through their social media or other online chat system.

Being available online can also help both doctors and patients to create a sense of community between each other, especially if the doctor is part of any support groups or networks.

However, while this is a great resource, it shouldn’t replace face-to-face visits completely. Attending important doctor’s appointments in person is still key for maintaining your overall health and well-being.

Boosting Your Brain

My last point may come as a surprise, but studies have shown that surfing the web can actually be good for the health of your brain. One UCLA study in particular, looked into a group of adults aged between 55-76.

It found correlations between those who were more “computer-savvy” and increased cognitive abilities. It was shown that browsing the Internet caused triggers in areas of the brain that are responsible for decision-making and complex reasoning.

Of course, too much Internet usage can have the opposite effect. So, like with anything done in moderation, surfing the web can be a great brain booster. Online puzzle games, chatting to people about shared interests, all of these activities can have a great effect on your physical and mental health.

What do you use the Internet for? Where do you search for medical information online? Do you trust any particular sources, or do you verify data with your doctor first? Are you a member of any support groups for people with a particular illness? Please share your story and experience below.

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