The Ten Best: Health websites

Tuesday 28 June 2005 00:00
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1. nhsdirect.nhs.uk

There's something reassuring about having the National Health Service online. This has a very good encyclopedia of illnesses, a list of your nearest pharmacy, dentist, optician and doctor, and a self-diagnosis section. It will probably tell you to go to the doctor ultimately, but it's not a bad starting point.

2. bbc.co.uk/health

As you would expect, this has plenty of news health stories. But there is also a healthy living section, a good interactive first-aid course, an A-Z of topics covered by the resident doctor and a message board where you can ask other sufferers for help with your problems. It's easy to navigate and clearly set out.

3. surgerydoor.co.uk

This breaks down into mind, body, medication and food, and gives you general advice on all. The medicine section includes a good list of remedies for common complaints, and lists their ingredients, uses and precautions as well as a rough idea of cost. The menu bar covers everything from medical emergencies and immunisations to organ donation.

4. besttreatments.co.uk

Billed as clinical advice for patients from the British Medical Journal, this site tells you about available treatments and how they work, based on clinical evidence. You simply choose a condition and follow it through. You will learn the symptoms, what treatments work and what questions to ask the doctor or consultant.

5. healthsites.co.uk

This has been set up to help non-medical people find reliable information. It has hundreds of links to sites dealing with specific problems - from digestive disorders to dermatology - as well as an enormous list of factsheets from Bupa. It also has a very detailed page about complementary medicine.

6. patient.co.uk

A clear, easy to navigate site, which contains some 680 leaflets on health and disease. There are also details of about 2,000 support groups as well as an online pharmacy. The site is currently in the process of setting up a way for you to book an appointment with your doctor online and to order repeat prescriptions.

7. netdoctor.co.uk

A much more overtly commercial site than the others - it has premium services that include how to lose weight and stop smoking - but it's no less useful for that. There are plenty of features on general health topics, as well as the day's news stories and numerous fact sheets. Plus, medical experts have answered some 6,000 questions for you.

8. nccam.nih.gov

The website of the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine includes a section on clinical trials and research. It also gives advice on choosing your practitioner, as well as a list of treatments, diseases and conditions. It's a great introduction for the newcomer and will provide a valuable resource to the converted.

9. bupa.co.uk

Obviously there's a large section on health insurance, but you can ignore that and head for the A-Z of medical conditions. There is also information on how to choose a care home for the elderly, and a number of questionnaires to find out, for example, how healthy your heart or your teeth are, and your stress levels.

10. cancerresearch.co.uk

It bills itself as "everything you want to know about cancer". There are simple factsheets about symptoms and side effects, living with it, worrying about it and a list of support groups. It explains everything clearly and calmly, and breaks down all the information into small chunks so that it doesn't appear overwhelming.

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