ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Bone Density Predicts Chances of Breast Cancer
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
CANCER
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
Minorities Distrust Medical System More
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
CAREGIVING
With Age Comes Greater Risk of Hypothermia
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Caregiving May Lengthen Life
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
DIABETES
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
Radiation Exposure Linked to Aggressive Thyroid Cancers
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
EYE CARE, VISION
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
FITNESS
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Omega-6 Fatty Acids Can Be Good for You
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Add your Article

The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help

(HealthDay News) -- People regularly turn to the Internet for games and gossip, news and entertainment, essential information and high weirdness.

And now, apparently, for their health as well.

A number of successful online medical interventions have been reported in recent months, helping folks quit smoking, lower their blood pressure and deal with any number of ailments.

New York City cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg figures it's a great trend, as long as people are going to reliable and trusted sources for help.

"I think it is the wave of the future and, theoretically, it seems like a great idea," said Goldberg, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, a clinical associate professor of medicine and medical director of the Women's Heart Program at New York University Langone Medical Center and author of Dr. Nieca Goldberg's Complete Guide to Women's Health. "There could be multiple interactions with patients that are brief and effective."

Online interventions have spanned a variety of medical issues. One program, for instance, used Internet and telephone interactions with heart attack survivors and cardiac patients to help improve their heart health. A study found that participants' blood pressure and cholesterol levels fell, more of them quit smoking and they were one-third less likely to die than cardiac patients who did not receive the attention.

Several programs have popped up to help smokers quit. An analysis of 22 clinical trials found that Internet- and computer-based smoking cessation programs gave smokers nearly twice the chance of successfully quitting than if they had tried to quit without help.

Those successes have led the University of Illinois at Chicago to spearhead a $2.9 million federal effort to encourage young adults to use proven online smoking cessation programs.

Alcoholics also can find online support. A Dutch study found that one in five excessive drinkers who used an online self-help Web site to help them with their problem reported that they had lowered their alcohol intake to levels less likely to cause health problems.

And chronic conditions such as psoriasis also have been shown to be helped by online interventions. One study in Boston found that half of the users of online psoriasis support groups believed that the quality of their lives had improved, and two in five reported improvement in the severity of their psoriasis.

In some instances, the Internet also provides "nudges" to help push people into healthy habits. One worksite e-mail health program developed by Kaiser Permanente, for instance, provided participants with weekly e-mails and mid-week reminders that set personalized health goals for them based on an earlier survey they had filled out. They were encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables, lower their intake of fats and sugars, and exercise more.

A study of the program found significant health improvements among people who received the e-mails. They were, in fact, eating better and exercising more.

Even those with advanced fitness goals can receive online assistance. The magazine Runner's World currently offers online training programs featuring personal advice from world-class runner Bart Yasso.

Dr. Robert Mallin, an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, said such online programs could appeal to people who don't like going to doctors, therapists or support groups for help with their problems.

"There's certainly an advantage to having face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball contact, but I think also people who would never step into a doctor's office or a room with a support group will explore those things online," said Mallin, a spokesman for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Online support groups, for example, allow people to gather information and communicate with others who have a similar problem while retaining their anonymity. "You don't have to participate," Mallin said. "People don't even have to know you're there."

However, both Goldberg and Mallin voiced concerns, too.

Goldberg wants to see large-scale studies of the effectiveness of these online programs before they are pursued to such an extent that they supplant regular modes of health care.

"When there's a concern about cost containment, we have to make sure the cost containment occurs within the context of quality care," she said. "This is a great idea, but I don't think we're 100 percent there yet."

Mallin worries about people getting bad information from Web sites.

"The biggest worry everyone has about health information on the Web is how accurate it is," he said. "I always ask my patients to run something by me they've read on the Internet or on one of those chat sites."

SOURCES: Nieca Goldberg, M.D., clinical associate professor of medicine and medical director, Women's Heart Program, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York City; Robert Mallin, M.D., professor, Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, S.C.