Web search is a whole lot easier than thumbing through a household copy of The Merck Manual when you're trying to find out what you're sick with. A simple search based on symptoms might steer you the right way, but several medical Web services have gone the route of attempting to emulate the kinds of questions you'd get when visiting a doctor's office. One of them, called MEDgle has quietly been offering up a symptom-based medical search tool for the last year.
The crux of MEDgle is the search tool, which either lets users type in what's wrong with them, or pick it out piece by piece by clicking on affected body parts or general symptoms. There are also tabs to hone down your search by drugs, procedures, and health care providers. The goal is to give you a list of conditions, along with pointing you the right way to places to get them checked out. What makes it interesting is that some of the results you get are actually hand-picked by physicians working with the service. Similar to the idea behind Mahalo, the hope is that you can get some guided search recommendations alongside the standard Web hits that have been tailored to the information you've provided on sex, age, and body type.
What makes MEDgle worth checking out is the results system. It'll first break down possible afflictions or conditions, then let you mouse over to get a quick overview of what it is. Each one is also rated on a five-star scale, which is tied in to the symptoms you've listed; the higher number of symptoms that match up to that condition, the higher the star count. You can then drill down by clicking on the condition, which will pull up the Web results, along with Snap-powered previews of each site.
While MEDgle lacks some of the polish and visual flair of WebMD, it's dead simple to use, and does a fair amount of hand-holding along the way, which I think novice users will enjoy. Until Google rolls out its own health search service and records platform, sites like these are a great place to bookmark for the next time you feel like doing a little research on what ails you without having to phone or visit your medical provider.