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CHECK IT OUT
Sneeze, cough and consult Dr. Google One in three Americans look to the Internet when trying to fix what ails them or someone else, according to a study recently released by the Pew Internet Project.
About half of those who do online triage follow up with a visit to the clinic. In 40 percent of those cases, a medical professional confirmed the diagnosis.
"Online health information is available day or night, at no cost, and the Internet has become a de facto second opinion for many people," said Susannah Fox, lead author of the Pew report.
While Fox and local experts caution that the Internet isn't the same as a visit to a medical professional — and can offer scary or misleading answers — it's a key resource for patients that health care providers are starting to embrace.
Allina Health in Minnesota, for example, recently encouraged non-emergency patients to use its MyChart system for e-visits rather than sit in clinic waiting rooms at the height of flu season.
"It's all about convenience," said Dr. Jane Herrmann, medical director of MyChart e-visits.
According to Pew, 80 percent of the people who seek health information online start at a general search engine, such as Google or Bing.
The Mayo Clinic's website for consumer health information, one of the most credible resources online, draws an average of 100 million page views a month.
But even there, doctors say, people shouldn't get too anxious about what they might find. They also should follow up with their doctor if they have questions.
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Four ways to live well this winter
Dreaming of spring? You're not the only one. Instead of sitting inside this winter, use these tips to "think spring" so you'll be ready for the season:
Try a smoothie
Nutrition has an incredible impact on wellness, and incorporating whole foods into your daily routine can help you stay fit through the winter months. A quick and easy way to begin incorporating more nutrient-packed foods into your diet is with fruit and vegetable smoothies. Simply toss whole fruits and vegetables into a blender, and you'll get a smooth, on-the-go treat that tastes great and gives you natural energy.
Exercise is essential to staying healthy, especially during winter when it's tempting to hibernate. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control recommend that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, plus muscle-strengthening activities twice a week. Join a dance or fitness class with a friend, go hiking, cycling or cross-country skiing in a nearby park, orincorporate exercise into your regular winter routine. Play outside with your dog or kids, keeping dumbbells at your desk, or walk down the hall to deliver messages in-person versus via email.
Set a goal
Planning a vacation for springtime can give you something to look forward to and is great motivation for remaining committed to a healthy lifestyle. Organize an exciting adventure with your family or friends to take your mind off the dreary weather and keep you inspired to stay in shape.
Remember to laugh
Don't let the overcast skies bring you down. Smiling and laughing are good for your health any time of year. Recent Stanford University research suggests that a good giggle fit actually can lower stress and act as a mini-workout.
IN THE Q-C
Local prostate cancer support group receives donation
The Greater Quad City Us Too Prostate Cancer Support Group recently received a $2,500 donation from Harcros Chemicals, Inc., of Davenport.
Us Too was one of four charitable organizations to receive a donation from Harcros Chemicals. According to a news release, Us Too received the donation because of a Harcros employee's experience with the group after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The employee contacted Us Too early in his diagnosis and was put in touch with the group leader, Bill Palos, according to the release.
Mr. Palos recommended he attend one of the group's monthly meetings for information on the variety of treatment options and how they impacted the men in the group who had received them.
Because of his experience, he nominated Us Too to receive the donation.
According to the release, Us Too will use the funds to establish a way to reach out into the local minority communities to provide free Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood tests to men who cannot afford them.
For more information about Us Too, visit ustoogqc.org.