How many times have you found yourself googling a certain symptom you might be encountering instead of visiting the doctor? Almost everyone is guilty of doing the same. We are so inclined to get fast answers that we don’t give a second thought as to the authenticity of those answers. Having said that, googling health symptoms is no different.
However, many times, these results are miles away from the truth. They only add to your troubles and worries by giving you the vaguest and the worst possible outcome of your search. Instead of this, it is much wiser to go see a doctor in person and speak to them about what’s bothering you. Let’s understand more about false self-diagnosis, its hazards, and how to keep them at bay.
Why is googling health symptoms a bad idea?
Google is an amazing search engine full of interesting ideas and thoughtful suggestions. There is ample information online on any subject you might want to study. Research, the latest news, nearby places and eateries, and various pros and cons of different career options are all available at the click of a button.
However, Google is not the best place to look up the meaning of your physical health symptoms. The internet makes hypochondria worse. For example, if you have a slight fever and you ask Google to tell you what it means; Google will give you a list of all physical disorders which have a headache as their symptom. It will even include the worst-case scenarios like migraines and brain tumour.
Which is why, one must always prefer going to a doctor in person and getting themselves checked for any such condition. The treatment plan will then be exclusive to only that individual. Googling health symptoms only induces anxiety and fear in a person regarding their health, or in other words, hypochondria.
What are some examples of cyberchondria?
The internet is full of lies. That may be a brutal truth, but a major portion of the internet and its websites are composed by people who have little to no knowledge about the subject. And publishing incorrect information online is, sadly, a norm.
Here are a few examples of worthless and ridiculous pieces of advice that you’ll come across daily on the internet. This happens when you choose to Google your symptoms instead of seeking help from a medical professional.
- Do you have a slight headache? That’s a migraine or a stroke!
- Bloating? You sure must have lactose intolerance or, worse, stomach cancer!
- If your side hurts, there’s a good chance you have appendicitis.
- Feeling tired after a long day? You probably have a chronic, incurable disease.
On the flip side, Google may convince you that symptoms which really need to be paid attention to are not worth your time. While it is unsafe to conclude wrongly about your symptoms, it is equally dangerous to not pay any heed to the serious ones. The internet makes hypochondria worse, so its best avoided in these situations.
How can you stop cyberchondria?
Cyberchondria, a situation where people prefer googling health symptoms and reach a conclusion without any guidance, is becoming quite common. The direct effects of cyberchondria include panic, anxiety, and hopelessness among people even before their condition is correctly and fully diagnosed.
In addition to that, hypochondria sets in people is most cases when they Google their health symptoms. The condition where an individual starts panicking and worrying about their health condition after researching independently about it is called hypochondria. This is only known to worsen without professional medical help.
Here are some tips the common public can use, in general, to curb the common and widespread practice of cyberchondria or googling health symptoms:
- When you come across any symptom of a physical condition, the very first step is to go see a doctor. Even taking over-the-counter pills isn’t recommended.
- Never ask a friend or family member who may have had symptoms identical to yours for advice. There are multiple disorders which have similar symptoms, and both your conditions might be drastically exclusive.
- Avoid drawing a conclusion based on what Google tells you. Even trustworthy pages like Wikipedia, which ranks 6th in terms of credibility, can be edited by almost anyone on earth. So, don’t hold any website content as a parameter for googling health symptoms and judging your illnesses.
- The internet may tell you that your headache or your side hurting isn’t a result of a crucial condition and that you may not look into it. To keep away from false self-diagnosis, never take your symptoms lightly unless your doctor tells you in person that your condition isn’t worth worrying about.
- You can refer to sites with .gov and .edu for authentic information if you wish to read more about and research any medical condition. However, diagnosing your own situation on the groundwork of even credible websites is still never recommended.
Summing it up:
The health and medical websites available online can only give you a gist of what certain medical conditions and their symptoms are. But they can never confidently tell you that your symptoms are the consequence of only a certain particular disease. This doesn’t mean that googling health symptoms can be an option.
You can only get personalised treatment with a professional doctor. At the most, you can refer to trustworthy sites like MedlinePlus and CDC to answer your queries and be an aid in the detailed study of that subject. They can even offer you tips to live a healthy lifestyle.
But that’s all they can do and nothing more than that. Never trust the internet to diagnose your illness correctly and offer you a treatment plan. It is high time we make amends to stop cyberchondria. Doing so will only worsen your condition. So, make sure you visit a doctor and get your medical issues sorted out today!