Computers have been accused of causing all sorts of health problems - from obesity to lower back pain, from neck pain to carpal tunnel syndrome. Considering the maladies associated with computers, it's amazing the government hasn't put warning stickers on them yet. But as it turns out, your computer can help you with your well-being - if used properly, that is. There are many Web sites and on-line services you can use to keep yourself in tip-top shape - helping you to diet, reduce pain, get information on treatments and even keep your mind sharp.
And while no one would confuse an Internet session surfing the health sites listed below with a trip to the gym, the two may have more in common than you think.
Take Control of the Pain
Where does it hurt? That's the first question a doctor will ask when you complain about a pain, but just because you know where it hurts doesn't mean you know what hurts. The pain you feel could be a symptom of a condition you didn't even realize you had. Pressed for time as they are today, doctors can't dedicate the time necessary to run a full battery of tests to determine exactly what is causing your pain; you're far more likely to come away with a prescription for painkillers, which will alleviate the symptoms, but not necessarily treat the root problem.
One way to get a more accurate diagnosis from your doctor is to come equipped. With ReliefInSite (http://www.reliefinsite.com), an on-line pain diary, you can record what hurts, and when. The site leads you through the reporting process, prompting you with questions and graphics to precisely pinpoint the pain, and then crunches the data into a report which you can print out or send to your doctor, who can use the results to get a better picture of what ails you and figure out how to deal with it. ReliefInSite is free and easy to use, so recording your pain is painless.
Medical Knowledge Is Medical Power
There's no patient like an educated patient, because the more you know, the more intelligently you can discuss your situation with your doctor. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a condition, you may be confused as to how to proceed; there are multiple treatment options out there for many conditions, and choosing the right one is often confusing. You need to do some research - but where do you begin?
Right here, at Patients Like Me (http://www.patientslikeme.com/), where you can find people who are going through the same thing you are, and get their feedback on how successful (or not) the treatments they're using have been. The site lists different drugs patients reported using to treat conditions, and the side effects and other issues involved in those treatments; ditto for surgery and other treatments. The site also has progress reports and Doctor Visit Sheets, which correlate information about you and present it in an organized and professional manner, making a discussion of treatment options much easier. Patients Like Me is about patients helping each other, empowering each other and equipping themselves with the knowledge they need to figure out, with their doctor, the best way of dealing with their problem.
Seeing Is Believing
Let's say your doctor tells you that you need to undergo some minor surgery - say, a laparoscopy for an intestinal obstruction. You ask the doctor what to expect, and s/he explains it to you, but you're still confused, and maybe a little scared. If you're facing a similar situation, check out http://www.icyou.com/, a site that's been called the YouTube of the medical world. ICYou hosts thousands of videos on all sorts of medical and health related subjects, including videos that show you the aforementioned laparoscopy and many other procedures (warning: many of the videos are not for the squeamish).
The site also has informational videos recorded by other patients who have undergone procedures describing their experiences, videos on how to figure out if you've got a medical problem (such as warning signs of stroke) and lifestyle videos that show you how to prepare healthy food, or even save money on medical bills.
A Healthy Mind
Many doctors believe that mental health directly affects physical health; stay sharp, and you'll stay well, especially as you get older. While there are many ways to stimulate your mind, the folks at Mind 360 (http://www.mind360.com/games) say they have the right, scientifically designed stuff that will ensure mental acuity. The site provides games that claim to enhance your memory, attention, logic, visual perception and executive function (the ability to plan, solve problems and make decisions).
Some of the games are free, but to get access to the full complement, you need to subscribe. As a member, you can also get access to training programs that will help you improve your cognitive skills - just in case you "failed" any of the games.