Google any health issue and you're likely to find an unmanageable amount of hits. That's just the nature of the Internet. Unfortunately, it can be hard to decide what is fact and what is fiction. Here's some help in deciding whether the information you find should be trusted - or trashed.
The Internet puts a large amount of health and wellness information at your fingertips. But if that information is outdated, incorrect or downright dangerous, it can cause more harm than good. You need to be able to "rate" the information you find. Well, now you can.
The 7 signs of a "healthy" health-related website
Follow these basic rules and start feeling better about the online health information you find.
1. It is clear who owns or sponsors the site. If the website doesn't disclose who owns or sponsors the site, ignore it. Most reputable sites - like those from government agencies, reputable health organisations or associations and pharmaceutical companies - will let you know who they are right on the home page. If you're still not sure, check the "about us" section to see who ultimately owns or sponsors the site.
2. The date of the information is clear. Some health information becomes outdated quite quickly. Check for a date, "last updated" or copyright date to ensure it contains recent information.
3. The website uses an editorial or advisory board. This helps to ensure that a balance of health and wellness information is covered and that dedicated professionals have a general consensus on the content being presented.
5. You can provide feedback. A site that's dedicated to being relevant will give you the option to provide your feedback on topics of interest to you. That way the site is more likely to remain relevant to its readers.
6. Ireland specific information is given. Regulations differ in different countries and in some cases it matters that the sources used to create the information are Irish.
7. The website doesn't try to replace your doctor. Only you and your doctor can decide what is best for your health. The website should recognise the importance of your relationship with your doctor and state that the information presented is no substitute for the advice your doctor or health professional gives you.