ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Naprapathy: A Hands-On Approach to Pain Management
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Varicose, Spider Veins May Be Inevitable for Some
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
CANCER
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Poor Women Seem to Be Skipping Breast Cancer Drugs
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
CAREGIVING
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
DIABETES
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
The Raw Food Diet
10 Beginner Tips for Fast Weight Loss, the Low-Carb Way!
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pesticides Linked to Parkinson's
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Disinfectants Can Boost Bacteria's Resistance to Treatment
EYE CARE, VISION
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
FITNESS
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Multivitamins Might Prolong Life
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
The Yearly Flu Shot Debate
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Help Your Kids Stay Active
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Optimism May Boost Immune System
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
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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.