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What You Don't Know Could Hurt You, But So Could What You Think You Know

Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2017
News and media sources are increasingly being questioned, scrutinized, and doubted. While it can seem that there is no way of ever knowing the absolute factuality of what we see on the news or read about online, we can’t completely turn it off and live in ignorance of what’s happening around us. This is even more the case when it comes to our health and bodies.
News and media sources are increasingly being questioned, scrutinized, and doubted. While it can seem that there is no way of ever knowing the absolute factuality of what we see on the news or read about online, we can’t completely turn it off and live in ignorance of what’s happening around us. This is even more the case when it comes to our health and bodies.

A certain pain or ailment can't be ignored, and we also need to stay informed and seek information on health news and recommendations. But with so much information out there and on such a delicate topic as our own bodies, how can we know where to look and what to trust?

Doctor Visits

Doctors can't stand it when you come to a visit and say "I looked up my symptoms online and I think I have..." But there are ways to gather information before going to the doctors without jinxing your diagnosis and treatment.

Always go to the doctors with an open mind, and don't mention any of your self-diagnostics until they have completed the exam and given their findings and recommendations. This allows your doctor to examine you objectively. If after the exam there seems to be some uncertainty or your gut is still telling you it still could be "that thing you read about online," then bring it up with your doctor. No one knows your own body and your physical experiences better than you and if nothing else, he or she may be able to eliminate some of your worries.

Where to Look

Information and products to promote good health and treat conditions changes and advances with time and research. When new recommendations come out, such as the update to the food pyramid, we want to be informed to make healthier decisions. But there is also a lot of misinformation out there about over the counter medicines and home remedies.

Before buying a new medicine or health product, consider checking if it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). You may consider looking at clinical trial results to consider potential side effects and the effectiveness of a remedy. Always question your sources of information. If you find it on a product's website or a social media blog, try comparing this information with validated evidence-based sources like NIH, CDC, WebMD, and websites managed by hospital systems and doctor's offices. Again, if things seem questionable, ask your doctor.

Social Media

Social media gets a bad reputation. It's a sure way to spread rumors and misperceptions. Always be skeptical and remember that what you read on social media may be just one person's opinion based on no science or proof. However, once diagnosed with a chronic disease, moderated social media platforms can be a great way to share experiences, build a community, and get tips from other patients. It can also help the mental health aspect of dealing with a difficult health condition to find others who share your experiences.

When in doubt, ask your doctor. And before starting ANY new diet or home remedy, discuss with your doctor whether it is safe and how it could interact with any of your current medications or conditions.