Littleton Regional Healthcare Consultation

Wise Health Care Consumer Month

February 1, 2019

Littleton, NH - Wise Health Care Consumer Month falls in February. How do we know if our online medical advice is trustworthy? Although the Internet can be helpful, we need to know how to filter what's good information vs. what can do harm. Always know the source of your information. Good websites will always clearly identify their sponsor(s). The best places to look for health information include the National Library of Medicine's MEDLINEplus, university teaching hospitals, and well known non-profits (e.g., March of Dimes, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association).

Stop and think about the number of health care choices we make over the course of a year. Choosing a physician and deciding on a course of treatment are very important decisions. How are we to know what's best for us? Office visits are usually short. It's a good idea to think about your health questions a day or two before your appointment. Write them down, and put a star beside the three most important ones. Bringing a loved one or friend to your appointment is a good idea too. Your provider may tell you things that are hard to understand. Speak up if you are confused. Or repeat back what you heard the doctor say. For example, you might try, "I want to be sure I do the right thing when I'm home. You told me that I cannot eat anything after 11pm the night before my procedure. Is this right?"

Another good habit to practice is to be sure you take your medications (meds) the right way. Always ask your provider why you need a certain drug. And if it's a brand name, see if there is a generic version or a cheaper substitute. Generics usually cost far less than the brand name. Pharmacists are always willing to answer your questions. They are experts in knowing the dosages and the side effects of medicines. They can help you figure out the best schedule for taking your meds, especially if you have to take a med on an empty stomach or with food. They can help you understand how long it should take for you to feel better once you begin a new medication.

In summary, speak up. Ask questions. Plan your health care visit. Become a wise health care consumer. Contact Anne Conner, Director of Gale Medical Library @ Littleton Regional Healthcare if you need help finding reliable health information online by calling 603.444.9564.

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