If you open a magazine, watch TV or listen to the radio, there are health care remedies being batted about. There is everything from foot care problems, sinus and allergy problems, gastrointestinal disorders, constipation, colds and flu, headaches, arthritis, and the list goes on and on. If there is a medical problem, there is a solution to it. Both over the counter (OTC) and prescription solutions abound. In some cases, you are advised to see a doctor about your condition. In others, a quick trip to the drug store works. Your friends and co-workers also have remedies to fix what ails you. Where should you go when you need medical advice?

You can find answers to your health questions on the Internet. You should understand, however, that not everything on the Internet is correct. Almost anybody can write anything. When you go to a website, you need to check the credentials of who wrote the material. Unless it has the endorsement of a major health organization (such as the AMA), federal or state agency (such as the CDC) or noted authority, don’t believe everything you read. Understand, too, that only an examination by a physician, specialist or surgeon can diagnose what your particular problem really is.

A good place to start to get answers to your health questions is http://FamilyDoctor.Org. This site was created by the American Academy of Family Physicians and provides information on health care issues of family members of all ages. It also offers advice on preventive medical treatments and selecting a family physician.

Once you have an idea of what ails you, you should see a physician. Only an examination by a physician can diagnose what your particular problem really is. Many diseases have similar symptoms. You don’t want to think that you are having a heart attack when you are really just having muscular pains in your chest wall.

After a physician has diagnosed your problem, do as he or she advises. If you get a prescription, read the patient information insert that comes with your medicine. It will provide much information about the drug, the proper dosage, and any possible side effects. Don’t get upset if your medicine is used to treat other symptoms than yours. Medicine has many different properties and is effective for treating different ailments. Consider aspirin. It is used for headaches, backaches, muscle pains and other conditions.

If you are still curious about your ailment, consult the Internet. Again, stay away from anything that is not officially sanctioned. If you have arthritis, for example, you might consult the Arthritis Foundation at http://Arthritis.Org. You will find out almost everything there is to know about your ailment. It is written for patients in plain English. You can consult other sites as well, including ones which are highly scientific or technical in nature. If you haven’t found the information you wanted, consult with your physician and ask about materials you can read.

If you are referred to a specialist or a surgeon, get information directly from them. Ask as many questions as you need to. You can also ask for materials you can read. Most specialists and surgeons or their staff can provide you with easy to read pamphlets about your condition. You can also ask about websites you can consult.

We all want answers to our health questions. Consulting a website provides generic information about a condition and its treatment. What we need, however, is specific information about what is ailing us. It’s best to be examined thoroughly by a physician. The doctor will provide your diagnosis and prescribe a course of treatment.

Joe Goertz