My six-year-old had a high fever on Thursday, no other symptoms ... the kind of bug I hate. When it's a cold or a stomach flu, at least I know what we're getting into. Fever with no symptoms is a troubling mystery. Two days after her fever broke, she was still complaining of joint pain so I went off to consult Dr. Google.
After five minutes of reading about rheumatic fever and Lyme disease, I closed my laptop with a shudder. (She's fine, by the way.)The problem is that on the Internet, everyone is an expert, and it's hard to sort the factual from the sensational. According to Dr. Nohle, three quarters of patients who used the Internet to research their health condition didn't confirm that the information was actually correct or from a reliable source. Chat rooms and forums can be an invaluable source of advice and support for parents, but the people who run them are just that ... parents, not doctors. And they shouldn't be handing out medical advice.
Dr. Nohle suggests three ways parents can use the Internet appropriately when they're concerned about their child's health:
- Take the information to your pediatrician so you can discuss it together.
- Ask your pediatrician or doctor to recommend good sites
- Join a reputable online support group if the health condition is on-going.