Health Information for You on MedlinePlus

By Sharyl O. Tue, November 3, 2015

We know many of you visit the Free Library of Philadelphia (in person and online) searching for health information. A new series of blog posts will share ways you can access our materials and services and focus on key health topics concerning Philadelphians.

This post will introduce to you an amazing resource from the Free Library of Philadelphia: the MedlinePlus database.

MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) website for patients. It is produced by the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library, and it offers information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in 46 languages. For free! The MedlinePlus database has easy-to-understand information in a variety of areas.

Health Topics
“Read about symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention for over 950 diseases, illnesses, health conditions and wellness issues.” MedlinePlus health topics are regularly reviewed, and links are updated daily. The health topics have information in these areas:


Drugs, Herbs and Supplements

  • Drugs – Learn about your prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines. The descriptions include side effects, dosage, special precautions, and more. You can search by brand name or generic name; for example, here is the description of levothyroxine (brand name Synthroid), a commonly used thyroid medication. (For FDA-approved labels included in medication packages, see DailyMed.)
  • Herbs and Supplements includes dietary supplements and herbal remedies such echinacea  and St. John’s wort, so you can “learn about their effectiveness, usual dosage, and drug interactions.”


Videos and Tools


Medical Encyclopedia
This sectionincludes over 4,000 articles about diseases, tests, symptoms, injuries, and surgeries. It also contains an extensive library of medical photographs and illustrations.” For example, you can read an article on lactose intolerance.


Today’s Health News
Daily health news updates are in this section. See a recent article about the recent World Health Organization (WHO) warning that processed meat may cause cancer.


Clinical Trials
Search for clinical trials or observational health studies looking for volunteers.


Stay Connected
Provide your email address to get an alert when new information on the MedlinePlus database is posted on your particular health topic of interest. Also look for the section on Easy to Read Health Materials.


Organizations and Directories

  • Organizations has links to associations for various medical conditions like the American Diabetes Association and the American Epilepsy Society.
  • Directories will help you find doctors, dentists, medical specialists, and hospitals. Need to find a doctor who will accept Medicare?  Go to Medicare: Physician Compare. Need to find out where your doctor went to medical school and when he or she graduated?  Check out docInfo. Want to know where your doctor has hospital admitting privileges or served his or her residency? Go to AMA Physician Select: Online Doctor Finder.


NIH MedlinePlus Magazine
This online magazine is published quarterly and has articles written for lay people about such topics as gluten, Afib, COPD, breast cancer, skin cancer, and autism. Click here to view the latest issue.


Want a video overview of the MedlinePlus website? Check out this video.

Medline Plus truly has something for everyone.

MedlinePlus offers patients information on doctors, diseases, treatments, and much more.
MedlinePlus offers patients information on doctors, diseases, treatments, and much more.

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