Tuesday, 18 April 2017 02:34

The Smart Way To Search The Internet For Health Information


Should you Google your medical symptoms? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Keck Medicine of USC, 500+ internationally renowned doctors at a leading academic medical center, on Quora:

Read this Before You Turn to Dr. Google. House calls are back and they are only a click away; but could overindulging in access to health information actually be hurting us?

When you’re not feeling well, it’s natural to want to find out what’s wrong. And the idea of doing so from the comfort of your own home without the hassle of a doctor’s visit is appealing. So appealing, in fact, a survey by Pew Research Center found that more than thirty-five percent of Americans had gone online to self-diagnose their symptoms. (Topping the list are pregnancy symptoms, flu symptoms and diabetes symptoms.) Sounds harmless, right? Actually, no.

If you tend to search online when you’re not feeling well, make sure you are following these steps:

1. Use trusted sites

You can’t trust everything you see on the Internet – from photoshopped images to opinions disguised as news. Unfortunately, there’s even more bad health information. Stick to searching on reputable websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Be especially wary of sites that are selling supplements, foods or anything health-related that sounds too good to be true. (Spoiler: It is!)

2. Don’t read only one diagnosis.

A study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that the correct diagnosis was only returned as the top search result thirty-four percent of the time on twenty-three sites that are self-billed “symptom-checkers”. It is better to read a handful of results: half the sites had the right diagnosis in the top three and nearly sixty percent had it in the top twenty.

3. Talk to a doctor about your suspected diagnosis.

No matter what you find, it’s important to have you doctor confirm your diagnosis. The Pew survey found that thirty-five percent of respondents did not get a second opinion, but of those that did, only forty-one percent had their suspicions confirmed by a medical professional.

4. Don’t stress out about your possible imagined health condition.

If you’re the type of person who gets easily stressed by uncertainty, you should be especially cautious of googling your symptoms, cautions one study. You may have a condition dubbed “cyberchondria”, the online version of hypochondria, where you think every symptom applies to you. For example, mistaking a simple tension headache for a brain tumor, for example. This can cause you to worry unnecessarily, visit the doctor more than necessary and demand too many tests or even medications you don’t really need.

While search engines can empower us with information, online research is no substitute for a physician’s diagnosis. If you believe something is wrong, reach out to your primary care physician for help. Not only can you count on their diagnosis, but can immediately receive steps for treatment.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. More questions:

Source : forbes.com

Live Classes Schedule

There are no up-coming events


World's leading professional association of Internet Research Specialists - We deliver Knowledge, Education, Training, and Certification in the field of Professional Online Research. The AOFIRS is considered a major contributor in improving Web Search Skills and recognizes Online Research work as a full-time occupation for those that use the Internet as their primary source of information.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.