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Dr Harrys Health Column
Doctor Harry

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GP, website consultant and regular columnist in NHS Magazine on the Internet, Dr Harry Brown offers his latest selection of hot health sites on the World Wide Web

Bookmark or get his page as a favourite to keep up with Dr Harry's latest recommended sites on-line...

Most of us have received a prescription at some point or another and often wondered about the effects of the drugs. Well you could ask your pharmacist or your doctor but there is a handy facility on the web which is well worth exploring. Aim your browser in the direction of http://www.rxlist.com/. It is American based, highly technical and correctly points out in its site - http://www.rxlist.com/about.htm that this information is no substitute for professional advice. Even so, there is valuable information in here for the person who wants to find out more about the pills they are taking. The sections you don't understand can be printed out and discussed with your doctor. Also remember that drugs have two names, a chemical (or generic) name and a trade name. Try searching for both names and remember that American and British drug names may not always be the same.

It may not just be medication that interests you but information about the disease you are suffering from. One super site can be found at http://www.patient.org.uk/. This is a splendid site for high quality information about self-help and patient support groups. There is information for both British and foreign surfers, however for UK based folk, look at http://www.patient.org.uk/index2.htm. This is an excellent listing of Internet based resources neatly catalogued in easy to understand categories. Even if you don't have a particular health problem, it a great place to learn more about medical problems. Patient support groups can be invaluable resources and are under used. The publishing power of the internet and the web in particular allows them to reach a much larger audience than previously imagined.

If you, a friend, or a member of your family has an alcohol problem then there are plenty of on line sources of help. One particularly good site, brimming with links is http://www.recovery.org/aa/. Though biased towards an American user, there is a wealth of potentially useful information here. However the Brits are not neglected and there is a listing of UK based phone numbers at http://www.recovery.org/aa/phone/britain.htm and also a links to UK based web sites at http://www.recovery.org/aa/#other. Also worth looking at as well is http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/.

Cancer of the prostate has attained a raised profile these days perhaps with the aid of better investigative techniques and a higher public awareness. So its not surprising that the Internet has a fair bit to offer. One place to start could be http://www.prostatecancer.com/ whose home page has an impressive mission statement. The core content of the internet resources is found at http://www.prostatecancer.com/PCDCHOME.HTML-SSI. There is plenty of useful information here and in particular there is huge list of prostate cancer information sources. From this site its likely that an interested lay person will find an answer to most of their questions on this topic.

Of course, there are other problems which affect the water works other than cancer of the prostate. Equally, problems with the urinary system can affect both men and women and yet many sufferers sometimes don't always ask for medical help, either due to shyness or lack of knowledge. Well the internet can help in overcoming both of these obstacles. One good site for a sprinkling of small and non-technical articles on urinary troubles can be found at http://www.duj.com/PI.html. The section is part of a medical journal published on the web. This patient information section is well written and if you feel a bit overwhelmed by the previously mentioned section on prostate cancer, have a read at the prostate cancer leaflet http://www.duj.com/cancer.html. This presents a good summary on the current knowledge of prostate cancer. If you feel adventurous you could delve in to the more technical sections of the site but most of them are designed for health professionals.

A very moving but positive and upbeat web site is located at http://www3.sympatico.ca/terry.edwards/Shelby.html. It's obviously a home made site but this adds to its attraction. Its produced by the parent of a Downs syndrome baby and starts with their reaction of being told of the news at birth. As well as giving a description of the condition, there are the obligatory links packed with more information. It was the human touch and the well told story on the home page which I found both moving and informative. It again illustrates the power of the web by allowing one individual to publish their story and making it easily available to a world-wide audience on almost certainly minimal cost.

With the onset of the holiday season nearly upon us, many of us are planning foreign holidays. Some exotic and not so exotic locations may require immunisations or having to take tablets to prevent catching malaria. The obvious place to go for all the latest information is your family doctor. However its worth checking the information from the highly respected Atlanta based Centre for Disease Control. Find their main travel information reference page at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/.

There is plenty of superb and authoritative information here. Useful tips from this page include information on food and water hygiene with particular reference to tummy bugs- look at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/foodwatr.htm. Even though this information is helpful, the ultimate source of information and advice should remain your family doctor but its useful reading through this information before going to see them

First aid is a topic which we should all be acquainted with but in reality many of us are lacking in basic first aid skills. So its very useful to see a book about first aid being published on the web. The main contents page is at http://www.medaccess.com/first_aid/FA_TOC.htm. From here is a hypertext link to each of the individual topics covered. The information is based on an American government publication, so its good to see that there is authority behind the information.

Once you feel confident about knowledge of first aid why dont you pop in to the British Red Cross web site at http://www.redcross.org.uk/. From the home page navigate to the first aid quiz for motorists. Its great fun, informative and there are potential prizes to be won. In addition to getting a right or wrong score, explanations are given about the scenario. Even if you know little about first aid, its easy to learn more about it from this superb and educational quiz.

And finally if you are looking for some recreational surfing aim your browser at http://www.ukfootballpages.com/. As the name describes this is a collection of links that every football fan should have. The home page simply divides the football teams in to geographical areas and then in to leagues. National teams are also represented as well. Its not just official web sites which are represented but many of the unofficial ones as well.

If you have any suggestions for sites to review in future editions of this column then we will be delighted to hear from you. E-mail drharry@nhs50.nhs.uk

No endorsement of the sites reviewed is intended by the NHS or Dr Harry and neither the NHS or Dr Harry carry any responsibility for their content.

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