Asthma & the Internet
The breadth and depth of the information on the net is breathtaking ! It is not wrong to say that the internet pervades every aspect of our life. This is especially so for the younger generation. Any information that we need or seek – whether it is goods, services or health – we turn to the net for it. It’s instantly available. And is mostly reliable.
People nowadays seek reliable health information. This is particularly so if they suffer from chronic conditions. Doctors, although a knowledgable source of this information, are usually hard pressed for time. It is no surprise that the patients would turn to the NET for health info.
Just like everything else in life, this too has it’s pros and cons.
- A smart and savvy patient can very quickly look up the information that he/ she is seeking from the net.
- This info is usually very up to date.
- If this matches with what has been told by the doctor, is is a great relief to the patient and provides a ratification.
- Asthma requires a lot of precautions to be taken by the patient to keep things under control. All these are easily available on the net. Reading them repeatedly over time can re-enforce these good habits. I have found that the younger generation is more likely to follow advise from the net more easily than that given by the parents or the doctor !!
- It saves the doctor-patient time. The time that the patient has with the doctor is limited. Usually to 10-20 minutes. I very often give patients direct links to good websites where this kind of info is available, which they can read at leasure in their homes.
- ” Cybercondriacs” : Many patients, some of whom already have a hypochondriac streak in them, become more paranoid by incessantly looking up disease and drug related issues on the net. Drugs have possible side effects. They are all listed on the net. By going over this list, such patients will either worry excessively or simply stop taking the medicine – both with bad consequences.
- ” Cranks ” : The net is full of cranks !! A crank, to me, is a person who first makes an opinion, and then goes about looking for facts to fit in his thesis. Examples could hearsay stories like drinking ginger and honey cured my asthma or that mega doses of Vitamin D can cure asthma. And then there are “hoaxes” about medical matters which spread like viruses on the net
Here are some good sites on reliable asthma and allergy information. I have provided direct links.
1. Mayo Clinic on asthma:
2. American Academy of Allergy and Applied Immunology:
3. Allergy and asthma network- mothers of asthmatics:
4. National Jewish Hospital asthma information:
My final advice on this matter:
- Visit reliable sites. Site ending with edu (education – usually Universities or Hospitals), org (organization – usually big NGOs) or gov (governmental sites) are likely to be reliable. Sites ending with .com are commercial sites.
- Be skeptical of sites offering ” CURE” of asthma or allergy. If it sounds too good to be true; it probably isn’t true !!
- Be skeptical of sites with too many “testimonials” or patient stories of miracles or good results.
- Be sure to share the info with your doctor. He may initially be irritated or annoyed, but a good doctor will clarify things and address your views. If he consistently disregards this, maybe it is time to change your doctor ! Remember, a good doctor is also an open doctor.
- FORUMs are good places to learn about a condition or interest. You get to know of views of people in the same boat as you are. But a word of caution. Drug companies also know this. Forums are also fertile grounds for them to fish. Many seemingly independent forums are managed from the back end by interested companies