We’ve all been there before, you start to feel little sniffle, a pain in the back and you head to Google to find out what these symptoms mean. It is perfectly natural to be curious of course, but my physician, the great Margaret Salmon MD, is constantly telling me that this is a bad idea and something which I shouldn’t do. Here reasons for this make a lot of sense and whilst I do still check from time to time to see what my symptoms mean, I have certainly taken Margaret’s advice on board. Here then, is exactly why you shouldn’t use Dr. Google to find out what is wrong with you.
Reliability of The Source
The first reason why you shouldn’t do this is because in most cases we have no idea how reliable a website is or who is contributing the information. There are some great sites out there like WebMD which uses doctors to provide the information and facts, but most are not websites which you should trust. The key point here is that there isn’t a way to find out just how reliable a site really is.
You May Be Missing Out
There is a very real danger that you feel symptoms, check them online and then decide based on what you have found that there is nothing wrong with you. This may or may not be true but if you use the information you’ve read online to decide that there is nothing wrong with you when there is, you could be missing out on vital diagnosis and treatment. This is why it is always best to consult your local doctor before you decide whether or not there is anything wrong.
The early symptoms for a huge range of diseases can be exactly the same and problems like headaches, nausea, fever and aching muscles could be a common cold or a brain tumor. Unfortunately if you start looking online to find out what your symptoms mean, you can very easily diagnose yourself as having some rare and incurable disease, when the probabilities are that you have something very minor. If you fall into the trap of Googling your symptoms then you won’t have to look for very long before you diagnose yourself with something extreme, in any case you will still have to make that doctors appointment.
Anxiety and Stress
If you have a doctors appointment next week and you start looking at your symptoms online now, you may very well give yourself a lot of stress and anxiety which isn’t necessary. If you think that you have something sinister because of the information that you have found online then you are going to spend the day in the lead up to your appointment very worried and scared, and in most cases this is going to be completely unnecessary. Even if you do have something severe, there is no point worrying about it until you know for sure.
The lesson then, as Margaret often tells me, is don’t look online for your symptoms.