Not all answers to medical questions freely obtained online through websites or social media sites are reliable, reports the National Institutes of Health. Individuals should carefully evaluate the sources of online information before accepting them as accurate. Examples of reliable online health resources include the National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus, HealthFinder.gov, and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website.
People should not trust answers to medical questions from websites that are outdated, sell products or services, or make unrealistic claims, advises the National Institutes of Health. They should evaluate the individuals or organizations that run the websites. Information on government-sponsored sites with .gov addresses and sites sponsored by educational institutions with .edu addresses is generally trustworthy. If answers contain information from outside sources, the website should clearly cite the health care providers, research documents or medical journals that provide the original information.
The National Institutes of Health sponsors MedlinePlus, which contains a comprehensive medical encyclopedia, articles on health and drugs, and tutorials and videos on health-related topics. Healthfinder.gov, run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has information on health and wellness, and it has links to reliable health care services and an online health care community. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is a government agency that specializes in the products and services of alternative medicine.