Making Healthy Web Choices: 5 Tips for Using the Internet for Medical Advice

By Cheri Hinshelwood

“Even doctors use Google,” said Maureen Ben-Davies, MD, MPH, FAAP, a pediatrician with McDowell Pediatrics. However, while surfing the internet for health information can feel like hitting the jackpot, not all that glitters is gold.

1. Filter for Credible Sources. Look for information by credible medical associations, government agencies and respected healthcare providers. Their health recommendations are often peer reviewed and evidence based. Examples are, a website for parents backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and, which is run by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

2. Watch Out for Health Blogs. While blogs are engaging forums that gather thinking from a wide audience, be cautious of health blogs not authored by a healthcare provider.

3. Know When to Call for Help. Home remedies can have their place for conditions like colds and sprains. However if your child’s condition lingers or worsens, trust your gut to call your pediatrician. “When parents call, we help determine the next best steps,” said Dr. Ben-Davies.

4. Clear the Air. Internet searches can lead to descriptions about rare conditions, causing unnecessary fear. Trust your pediatrician, who is trained to care for children from birth to age 18. Asking questions is essential to your child’s health.

5. Seek Immediate Medical Care. The following medical conditions can quickly turn serious and require immediate medical care:

– Acute allergic response in which your child shows immediate reaction to a substance

– Asthma with symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness of chest

– A fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit in babies less than 3 months old is a medical emergency

– Anxiety or unexplained sadness for long periods

– Sudden unintended weight loss

– Loss of consciousness

For more information about McDowell Pediatrics or to schedule an appointment with Maureen Ben-Davies, MD, MPH, FAAP, call McDowell Pediatrics in Marion at (828) 652-6386.

Maureen Ben-Davies, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a pediatrician with McDowell Pediatrics. (828) 652-6386

Free Medical Resource

The internet is a good resource for information but cannot replace the diagnosis of a healthcare provider. Mission Health’s Health Information Library ( offers thousands of easy-to-understand explanations and tools on medical conditions, symptoms, tests and treatments.

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for seven years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.