Oh MedlinePlus, You Bright and Sparkly Gem

An exceptionally precious jewel online, perhaps a bit buried in our midst, is MedlinePlus, a resource from the National Library of Medicine. With carefully curated health information in one place, it has everything from information on disorders and conditions, lab tests, topics covering genetics, translations into languages such as Gujarati to Vietnamese to Spanish to German, videos for visual learners, and much more.  All of the information on MedlinePlus is carefully reviewed and updated regularly. And if you're thirsty for at-a-glance info or more on the features of MedlinePlus, there's plenty of amazement to be had! 

And no advertisements! *I'm currently inhaling and exhaling a refreshing sigh of gladness now...*

Before entering into a conversation with a physician, it can ease your mind to have a basic understanding of a health topic. When I was a younger person, I used to google random symptoms like an ache in my pinkie toe or a certain scratchy feeling on my elbow, never really finding a trustable website.   

A year after taking the initial training on MedlinePlus' offerings, I'm realizing how enriching, beautiful, and rejuvenating it is to see information online that you can absolutely trust with something as consequential as health. I see you deep-into-the-night worriers out there, googling your random pains. Wouldn’t you prefer to worry AND get straight-ahead answers? Pretty much any health topic that strikes your fancy is likely covered by MedlinePlus. It’s designed so that you can find the information you need, fast. If you want to go down a curiosity rabbit hole, you can do that too.

Also, if you’re not facing serious health issues but are never 100% sure where to find reliable information on preventative health, (exercise, nutrition, sleep, etc.) MedlinePlus has information on Healthy Recipes, on how much exercise adults need (for children and older adults). Or, perhaps diabetes is a common disease in your family and you want to prevent yourself from getting it too! Perhaps the pandemic has left you struggling with your mental health and you want useful information to start making changes. Or maybe you know how expensive dental care is, so you want to do your best to take care of those pearly choppers.

If you want to brush up on your understanding of medical words, there’s a tutorial

I'm realistic, though. I understand not everyone is going to immediately jump onto the bandwagon of MedlinePlus for their health concerns. You may even have the best of intentions to start using MedlinePlus but within your knowing self, you accept that you’ll still probably get a portion of your medical information elsewhere. In this case, you can still supply yourself with the tools needed to know whether the information is accurate and reliable. The perpetual question with any information is whether or not you can trust it. Checking out this website when unsure is another useful checkpoint.

Ultimately, you and your health deserve good information.

Disclaimer: No website is a substitute for the expertise of a medical professional. So if you're facing potentially serious health issues, it's best to seek medical advice from the appropriately-educated person.

-Theresa Bird is an Information Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.

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