Paging Dr. Google...

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Fever, headache, sore throat, achy joints...sounds like the flu. But type those symptoms into your favorite internet search engine, and you may be surprised by what you find...depending on the browser, you could see sites about the flu, leukemia, west nile or even lyme disease! Dr. Thomas Schiller is a family practitioner with SwedishAmerican Health Systems in Rockford.

"I see the value of looking up symptoms or diagnoses on the internet as a supplement to the doctor/patent relationship. I mean, I'd hate for that to become the relationship."

Dr. Schiller says there just isn't a substitute for the kind of exam you get in a doctor's office...not even a search engine you find on the net. And he thinks online medication orders are another problem.

Internet surfers are unlikely to miss more and more advertisements for prescription medicines popping up online.

"Somebody comes up with a diagnosis, that is the wrong diagnosis, and then takes the medicine that may harm them," he says. "Or conversely, they will not treat what the real issue is..."

Dr. Schiller says the increasing presence of drug advertisements online, as well as drug availability, is a dangerous combination...eespecially for those that like to self-medicate.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's (NABP) Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites Seal, also known as VIPPS Seal, gives a seal of approval to Internet pharmacy sites that apply and meet state licensure requirements.

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