Health & Fitness

Negatives and positives of googling symptoms

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Summary

  • Googling symptoms can often create anxiety in patients.
  • The second potential problem is that many online resources are there to coax you into buying or purchasing some form of treatment or device to relieve your symptoms.
  • Googling symptoms demonstrates that the patient has reached the point where they need to seek help and they are being proactive about their healthcare.

With many online self-diagnosis, the results can be alarming and information can be misconstrued.

Online is how we are learning about our world and gathering information; so why should our health be any different?

But there are issues to consider. Here we discuss the potential positives and negatives related to ‘googling my symptoms’.

The negatives

First of all, googling symptoms can often create anxiety in patients. On the one hand, most resources on Google are duty-bound to advise of the potential worst-case scenario and will conclude in advising you to attend your local A&E or see a doctor. Many symptoms of the body are quite ambiguous and subjective, e.g., ‘swelling’, or descriptions of pain, such as ‘shooting pain’, which can cover a whole range of potential diagnoses.

The second potential problem is that many online resources are there to coax you into buying or purchasing some form of treatment or device to relieve your symptoms.

Therefore, as well as creating a lot of anxiety around your disorder, they will also try to sell to you at a very inflated price a potential solution to your problem.

Thirdly, studies have shown even websites from supposedly trustworthy sources such as government agencies provide inaccurate and incomplete information.

So even when we are looking at supposedly reputable sources they may be outdated or out of line with current thinking in terms of diagnosis. Googling too many symptoms can lead to a whole range of potential diagnoses which, can create anxiety.

The positives

Googling symptoms demonstrates that the patient has reached the point where they need to seek help and they are being proactive about their healthcare. Googling symptoms will make people think about their problem, monitor their symptoms and start thinking about aggravating and easing factors. Often patients have arrived at the correct diagnosis or certainly a diagnosis, which is similar to the correct diagnosis.

Tips to follow

Try not to get anxious if you read symptoms on Google, which sound much more serious than you had anticipated. Always wait until you have been properly assessed by a medical professional.

Do not purchase expensive treatments or put yourself forward for expensive investigations through your Google research. Again, wait until you have been thoroughly assessed by an experienced and trustworthy medical professional who will help to guide you if any intervention, treatments or investigations are genuinely warranted.

By all means, discuss with your medical professional, the findings of your google searches. Also, remember that many symptoms are quite ambiguous and subjective.

Therefore, allow yourself to be guided by your healthcare professional who is clinically assessing you, so they have the benefit of being able to see you and assess you in the flesh, rather than creating a diagnosis based on a few yes or no answers.