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Taking Care of Your Health

Health is a big issue for almost all of us. At some point in our lives, we will encounter a situation where we need to find reliable, accurate health information. Perhaps you've already found yourself in one of the following situations:

  • You or a family member have been diagnosed with an illness.
  • You were given a prescription but were given little information from the doctor about possible side effects.
  • You don't have health insurance and need to access clinics and inexpensive dental care.

Let's explore ways to find information for these needs.

How to Find Information Following a Diagnosis of Illness

screenshot of the MedlinePlus homepage


  • Search the college or public library's online catalog:
    • Try a subject search to see if there are books on the illness.
    • There may be reference books that include high quality information on many illnesses such as Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment or The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine
  • Check the library's databases for a health database such as Consumer Health Complete.
  • Check high-quality Web sites such as MedlinePlus (, a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.
  • Ask the librarian at the information or reference desk for assistance.

How to Find Prescription Information

photograph of several different medications
  • Search the library catalog for the book The Physician's Desk Reference, a standard reference book on prescription medications. It lists descriptions, side effects, contraindications, and even has photos of the medications.
  • Use a high quality Web site such as PDR Health.
  • Ask the librarian at the Information or Reference Desk in your college or public library for assistance.

How to Find Low-cost Medical and Dental Clinics

  • Look for Web sites that are not commercial sites that list local medical information. Examples include:
    • Contra Costa Health Care Services
    • Berkeley Information Network, available through the Berkeley Public Library Web site, lists low-cost clinics, both medical and dental
  • Ask the librarian at the information or reference desk at your public library.
Chapter 10 — Page 5