How The Online World Has Shaped Our Approach To Health
The internet has revolutionized every aspect of our day-to-lives, and our approach to health and healthcare is no exception. We look below at how the online world has transformed this generation’s engagement with the healthcare system.
Information And Awareness
More than anything else, the internet allows us access to a near infinity of information and data. This has meant, in terms of our health, that we are more aware of and educated on conditions and diseases than ever before. This has made a profound difference to the rates of early diagnosis of, for example, certain types of cancer and has armed a vast amount of people with the information they need to make informed choices, which is often key to preventative practices. We can quickly find out the maximum units of alcohol we should be getting through a week and recipes for low-fat versions of our favorite dishes.
A quick online search can tell us how many grams of fiber we ought to be consuming a day, and the foods highest in this nutrient, or the warning signs to look out for in terms of skin cancer. Despite the great benefits that this has brought, it is somewhat of a double-edged sword.
Firstly, readers should satisfy themselves that the source of the medical knowledge provided is a reliable one. Secondly, many symptoms can present as a result of numerous different illnesses, and it can be very difficult to tell for sure what you’re suffering from: a headache could be due to a viral cold, an allergy, stress, or a potentially very serious condition. Self-diagnosing can often result in errors and subsequently not seeking the medical intervention you might require.
Accessing Doctor’s Appointments Online
Online appointments came to the fore during the pandemic, and it is likely that they will continue to be offered indefinitely. Online consultations allow for much greater convenience, especially for those who might otherwise struggle to attend in person, such as those who have mobility problems or who can’t easily travel to a clinic. These types of appointments can also feel more accessible for those who might be anxious or self-conscious about seeing a doctor in person.
Requests for prescriptions can be made online, too, and the process is usually quick and easy, especially for repeat prescriptions. Check with your clinic regarding the system for obtaining online prescriptions or click to investigate more about obtaining your medication via an online portal, including details of the different plans available. Many service providers operate on a 24/7 basis, and some can mail out prescriptions. The ability to get a prescription online is of great benefit to those whose working hours or conditions make attending in person problematic.
Mental Health Support
Long a condition that wasn’t talked about, the importance of mental health is now being recognized and addressed. The nature of mental health issues can make it particularly hard for those suffering to reach out for the help and support that they need. Online tools and resources are changing this, though, and making a real difference to the life of sufferers. Charities like The Samaritans now offer the facility for people to contact them via email to access support and have a self-help app on their website for users to monitor their feelings and receive links to recommended services, helplines, and groups. The UK mental health charity, Mind also features a range of useful tools on their website, including a coping guide for those who feel in crisis and access to a range of resources and links.
Encouragement To Exercise
The internet has also driven awareness of the importance of regular exercise and made it easier to achieve a daily workout than ever before. There are a plethora of online classes and exercise sessions available in a variety of different types of exercise, including yoga, aerobics, and spin, and targeted at varying levels of ability. Apps that monitor things like your steps, heart rate, and quality of sleep also make it simple to keep track of crucial elements of your overall state of health and level of fitness.
A Holistic Approach
The online world has facilitated a much more holistic and joined-up approach to health and the health services we have reason to access. Data sharing, linked resources, and apps that work alongside each other inform the new way we think about our health. Mental health is now seen as intrinsically linked to physical wellbeing, and mindful techniques, for example, are being recommended, alongside traditional medications, to alleviate digestive problems. Diet has been found to have a major effect on hormone production, which in turn impacts fertility, stress levels, and – full circle – appetite.
As the way in which the body and the mind work in conjunction is more fully understood, a holistic approach to health is likely to be the prevailing way that we understand our entire selves, and how best to keep ourselves nurtured both physically and mentally, and the online world will no doubt be at the forefront of this.