Health questions and answers on the internet aren't all created equal. This article covers what to look for when searching for questions and answers, how to ask questions, and where to find health answers.

Ask Health Questions - What to look for in a website Many websites allow users to ask questions in a forum setting, in a chat, or even to self proclaimed medical professionals. It's important to find a websites that provides health questions and answers that are relevant, reliable, and free. Avoid websites that ask for money to ask questions or receive answers, and avoid websites that claim you can "Ask a doctor". Though there are some legit websites where you can receive medical advice from a licensed physician, they're exceedingly rare. Be cautious.

Resources that provide health questions and answers from group members are almost always better, but keep in mind that these people are not trained medical professionals and you shouldn't rely on what they say as fact. It's always best to ask a doctor, although with more than 10% of the United States lacking health insurance, that's not always easy. Be diligent in your research and look through many questions and answers when you're looking for an answer.

Asking Health Questions - How to get a good answer When you've found a website that seems reliable and you're ready to ask a question, take some steps to phrase your question in a way that will bring the best answers. Never ask a question that doesn't contain at least one question mark. This seems pretty basic, but if you're phrasing your question as a statement (like "I have pain in my left leg") you'll have a harder time getting someone to respond. Ask a question in a way that invites interaction. "I have pain in my left leg - what might cause this?" will bring many more answers and invite other users to interact.

It's also important to be as detailed as possible when you ask a health question online. The shorter and vaguer the question is, the more difficult it is to get a good answer. Your question should encompass everything about your condition that you can think of, including symptoms, time frames (when the problem started, if it's recurring, etc.) and your background. Cover all your bases, and think about how others will respond to your question. If you're going to get an answer that is just another question, you probably need to add more to your post. Common short answers include "Have you seen a doctor?", "When did this start?", and "What symptoms do you have". Try to anticipate these health questions and answer them in your original post. This will allow responding users to concentrate on answering the question instead of asking another.