Matthew, 27-years old, was experiencing breathing problems. He did exactly what so many people do today- Google. He Googled his symptoms and the bots returned back with a handful of dreadful conditions—from carotid artery stenosis to asthma to even throat cancer. Petrified, he visited C.W. Williams only to find that it was just a regular seasonal allergy. In the last follow-up, he was doing well and happy.
Matthew isn’t alone. We’re living in an ‘internet diagnosis age’. When people are experiencing health issues, instead of heading to a nearby medical facility as they would traditionally do, they are searching their symptoms online to find the “real problem”. In fact, so big is this phenomenon that it has its own term—cyberchondria, an inconclusive, irrational fear that you’re suffering from a disease that’s featured on the internet.
Now, are you in the same boat? How sure are you that you don’t have cyberchondria?
Over the course, some researchers have found that more than 90 percent of medical students and 50 percent of doctors, at some point, refer Wikipedia. When concerning the end-patient, this number could possibly be even bigger. This is quite dreading when you realize the fact that 90 percent of Wikipedia medical entries are inaccurate.
Seeking medical information, including for self-diagnosis, isn’t a bad idea, at large, per se. However, the research process must stretch beyond a few websites that search engines pop on their first page. These search results, which can easily be manipulated, have no validity of their credibility.
These high-ranked articles, how wrote them, what is their qualification, what resources are they citing—these are important questions that searchers must closely observe. And this is only possible if they are investing good in doing their researche across multiple websites, cross-checking the information they are consuming and keeping a close eye on the published journals that such articles cite. Of course, these measures aren’t fool-proof, but they do resolve many sources of skepticism.
Stop over-relying on the internet for self-diagnosis. Many times, you will end up with the wrong findings. When all you have a common cold, you might end up believing that it’s respiratory infection. Or the opposite is just true. When you’re experiencing something serious, the internet may call it just a regular cold. As it has always been, the best thing you can do when you’re experiencing even the slightest of health problems is to consult a qualified professional. In this context, the only right way to use Google is to search “community health center near me“.
Many online articles that talks about medical conditions, symptoms, and treatments, they are more often than not just the guess works. To that, they are inclusive and leave the onus on the readers. ‘We are saying you might have this, but we aren’t sure. If you believe it, you do it at your own responsibility’ – most of these articles underscore the same tone. This alone pinpoint that you should refer to such articles but NEVER look too deep into them to make final calls about your health. It would only increase your anxiety, which will make things even worse.
So, irrespective of the problems you’re experiencing, big or small, stop obsessing the self-diagnosis and Google “community health clinic near me” right away. The more delay, the more harm you’re doing to yourself.