Merck Manual Consumer Version

Merck Manual Consumer Version
2024 © Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., A Subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc.
Sandy Falk, MD; Monica Curtis, MD
Patient Information


Complete, Concise, Correct


  • • Explains disorders, who is likely to get them, their symptoms, how they're diagnosed, how they might be prevented, and how they can be treated; also provides information about prognosis.
  • • Based on the world's most widely used textbook of medicine—The Merck Manual—but written in everyday language by 300 outstanding contributors.
  • • Provided free of charge on the Internet by Merck & Co., Inc., as a public service.

What's Different About the Online Version?

This online version is very similar to the print version of The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook, except for:

  • Multimedia extras - The online version contains photographs not found in the print version.
  • Updates - The online version is updated periodically with new information. On the bottom of each topic page is a "Last full review/revision" date. This date indicates when the topic last went through its full editing and review cycle. Corrections of errors and minor changes made to a topic on an intermediate basis do not result in a change to the date.


Most sections cover the disorders of one organ or organ system, such as those of the eye, skin, or heart and blood vessels. A few sections cover one type of disorder, such as hormonal disorders or infectious diseases. Other sections cover health issues of men, women, children, and older people. General topics important to health care include communicating with health care practitioners, prevention of disease and disability, exercise and fitness, rehabilitation, and death and dying. Injuries and Poisoning includes a chapter on first aid. Special Subjects provides an overview of clinical trials, medical decision making, hospital care, surgery, complementary and alternative medicine, and travel and health, among other topics.

In sections about disorders of an organ or organ system, the first chapter describes the organ's normal structure and function. Reading about how the heart works or looking at illustrations of the heart, for example, may make reading about a specific heart disorder more understandable. Many sections also include a chapter describing symptoms and relevant medical tests.


Full-color Anatomical Drawings help readers locate different parts of the body and see how they relate to each other. Individual drugs are almost always referred to by their generic name rather than by their brand or trade names. Drug Names: Generic and Trade - contains a table of the generic drugs mentioned in the text along with some of their corresponding trade names, as well as a table of trade names with their corresponding generic name. In addition, rolling over the generic name of a drug in text will bring up a list of some trade names. Common Medical Tests - lists many common diagnostic tests and procedures, explains what they are used for, and provides cross-references to where more detailed discussions of a test or procedure can be found. Resources for Help and Information lists the contact information of many organizations that help people who have specific disorders. These organizations can provide additional information about a disorder or help locate support services.

Readers may also find Selected Links useful, as links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, among others, are provided.

Figures, Sidebars, Tables, and Drug Tables

The many figures, sidebars, and tables help explain material in the text or give additional, related information. Drug tables, marked by an Rx symbol, provide additional information about a class or group of drugs.

Drug Information

Drug doses are not provided because doses can vary greatly, depending on individual circumstances. For example, doses are affected by age, sex, weight, height, the presence of more than one disorder, and the use of other drugs. Therefore, health care practitioners tailor the dose of a drug to the individual.

Medical Terms

Medical terms are often provided, usually in parentheses after the common term. See Understanding Medical Terms for a list of prefixes, roots, and suffixes used in medical terminology. This list can help take the mystery out of medicine's multisyllabic vocabulary.


Hyperlinked cross-references identify other important or related discussions of a topic. Some cross-references point the reader to a figure, sidebar, or table.

The Merck Manual Consumer Version is a value-added patient education resource provided free of charge with most STAT!Ref subscriptions.

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