A virtual checkup

A virtual checkup

Tim Appenzeller

CORRECTION PUBLISHED 12/29/00:

Dadstoday.com, a Web site referred to in “A Virtual Checkup,” is a member of the iParenting.com network.

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Diseases & Treatments

www.healthfinder.gov This is your gateway into the U.S. government’s trove of information on illnesses and how to treat them. An A-Z index or a simple search engine links you to sites on topics from Alzheimer’s to the AIDS drug Zidovudine. Click the “tools” button for links to medical dictionaries, toll-free information numbers, and discussion groups about ailments including kidney disease, stroke, and psoriasis.

www.onhealth.com Get breaking news and in-depth reports on illnesses and treatments reviewed by medical specialists at this site, owned by the Internet health giant Healtheon. There’s also an array of interactive tools to assess your diet, match symptoms to diseases, and check for drug interactions.

www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/md This is the healthcare list of lists: the Hardin Meta Directory, holding massive catalogs of medical Web sites. Mine them for advice including preferred treatments for athlete’s foot and referrals for hospice nurses. The University of Iowa group that runs Hardin will list a site only if 80 percent of its links are active and relevant–a sign the site is well maintained.

www.medlineplus.gov Plain talk about medication is rare on the Web, but you’ll find it on the “drug information” page, which covers more than 9,000 prescription and over-the-counter products. The government-run site also has valuable links to data on newly approved drugs and to ongoing clinical trials.

Prevention

www.medicinenet.com Click on “Procedures and Tests” to get prevention guidelines for all ages from this network of physicians and scientists: when children should get their immunizations, how to prevent and treat teen acne, when to consider cancer screening tests, and how to prevent falls among the elderly.

www.wellweb.com Wellness tips and resources from conventional and alternative medicine. Look for advice on how to quit smoking and what to expect as your body recovers. Or take a five-minute test to see if you’re a Type A person. If you are, self-help books on a recommended reading list may help you unwind.

www.yourcancerrisk.harvard.edu This site, developed by the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention, helps you assess your risk for numerous cancers, including breast, prostate, colon, and stomach. After calculating your individual risk, it describes how you can lower your odds.

www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/framingham/ When you click on “CHD Risk Prediction Score Sheets,” researchers from the widely respected Framingham Heart Study will help you estimate your risk of heart disease, based on your age, cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, and other health factors. Then follow the links to the American Heart Association to find out how to lower your risk.

www.hospiceinfo.org Get help making final healthcare decisions for yourself or a loved one from the National Hospice Foundation. Find a hospice near you, and get information on drafting a living will.

Parenting

www.parenting.com Fertility talk, picking a pediatrician, babyproofing your home, coping with learning disorders–it’s all here. The “BabyNamer” provides the lowdown on thousands of monikers–from cultural roots to trendiness (Josh is No. 1 for baby boys in Hawaii). The “Babysitter Checklist” is a printable work sheet with all the vital facts your nanny should know when you’re out, including a mini “how-to” for treating burns, cuts, and head injuries.

www.drpaula.com Paula Elbirt is the pediatrician every parent dreams of: a mother with a practice and a teaching post at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She and her team of pediatricians address a host of confounding concerns, including toilet training and how to discuss sex with your teen.

www.dadstoday.com At this offspring of Parenting.com, dozens of articles and essays help men explore a role that extends far beyond being a provider of money and a roof over the head. Articles delve into the emotional nitty-gritty of daddydom. A diaries section features current journal entries from a handful of real-life dads.

www.storksite.com First-time moms-to-be will find guidance on issues like how the baby should be growing and what you’ll feel each week. In “Underbelly,” visitors relate colorful labor stories and dad gossip, and the site also addresses miscarriage and baby loss as well as motherhood after 40.

Fitness

www.active.com Looking to compete in a skydiving competition this winter, or do you just want to find a local 5K race for charity? An event locator and online registration simplify signing up for events from the on-road to the offbeat. You can also get online coaching and club connections for dozens of sports, including fencing and snowshoeing.

www.asimba.com Sign up for Asimba’s cheeky, free E-mail newsletter to get daily fitness and health news. Test the numerous health calculators. Or try Asimba’s new customized fitness and nutrition program. For $24 a month, it gives you daily exercise recommendations, menus, and a nutritional database for checking fat and calorie counts, and tracks your weight loss and workout progress. www.run-down.com A portal to running clubs, races, statistics, products, training help, a running partner locator, stories of racing inspiration (and desperation), and a variety of publications–you’ll be too exhausted to lace up your Nikes after trotting through all of Run-down’s links.

www.planetoutdoors.com Adventure sports enthusiasts–canyoneers, kayakers, cyclists, and participants in other white-knuckle pursuits– can browse and buy footwear, clothing, and equipment. Newcomers can learn about a sport from “how to” primers, while buyers accrue coupons good for future purchases.

www.fogdog.com The sheer magnitude of sporting products here is overwhelming at first glance. But easy navigation helps you wend your way through golf, basketball, soccer, and fishing paraphernalia– whatever your sporting heart desires. Shop by sport, maker, or keyword. And gift givers racing to the holiday season finish line will be glad to know that Fogdog rates high in customer service.

Nutrition

www.navigator.tufts.edu The starting point for any nutrition quest, the Tufts University site rates hundreds of other nutrition sites for content, timeliness, and ease of use; it also provides links.

www.mayohealth.org Click on “nutrition” to find a virtual cookbook that teaches you how to cut hundreds of calories from favorite recipes (though subbing portabello mushrooms for ground beef in a hamburger seems a bit austere). A Mayo Clinic dietitian answers food questions, such as, “Is turbinado sugar better for you than the regular kind?” The answer: no way.

www.cyberdiet.com Play the numbers game by working out your daily caloric and nutrient needs, then putting together menus to meet them. Less disciplined souls can go to the “Fast Food Quest” and marvel at the calorie, fat, and sodium content of Dunkin’ Donuts, Big Macs, and other sat-fat no-nos. Or click on “Dining Out” to find out how to eat healthy at ethnic restaurants.

www.nal.usda.gov/fnic Curious about the potassium content in an avocado or the carbohydrate in a jar of strained applesauce baby food? The USDA Nutrient Database is dry and technical, but it’s got the goods.

www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsafety Face your fears at Iowa State University’s food safety site. Read about recalls and food poisoning outbreaks, then learn how to defend yourself. Fat Tom, a turkey that raps, provides pointers on banishing kitchen pathogens.

Alternative Medicine

www.quackwatch.com Sifting cures from quacks is a challenge, but Stephen Barrett can help. The retired psychiatrist from Allentown, Pa.- -who got an award from the Food and Drug Administration for his exposes–critiques alternative treatments such as aromatherapy, magnets, and therapeutic touch.

www.onebody.com Onebody boasts an advisory board mixing M.D.’s and alternative therapy enthusiasts. Just plug your city or town into the search engine, note the type of specialist you want, and voila! From a database of 70,000 practitioners spew names of nearby acupuncturists, yoga instructors, and biofeedback therapists. The profiles often include years of experience, license details, and cost per visit.

www.wholehealthmd.com This encyclopedic resource explains how to supplement Western medicine with alternative treatments for common ailments such as allergies and athlete’s foot. Visit the Healing Kitchen for recipes such as barley risotto with kale, recommended for heartburn. .uk

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