Doctors Warn: Searching your Symptoms a Dangerous Trend

Last updated: September 26, 2019


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More and more parents are turning to the internet and social media to solve their medical issues, but physicians warn this is a dangerous new trend. 

 

Many people are turning to the internet rather than their family doctor. Google reported that 1 billion medical searches are performed each day. That is 70,000 each minute of every day. 

online search can be dangerous

Source: Canva

More and more people seeking medical information from the internet rather than their family doctor may be connected with a rise in wait times for healthcare in North America. 

 

Canadians wait longer for health care than their counterparts in many other countries. According to a report by the Canadian Center for Health Information, Canadians have a longer wait time for doctors, specialists and emergency room visits than their counterparts in many other countries. 

 

A recent report by Merritt Hawkins revealed that in the US it now takes an average of 24 days to schedule an appointment with a new physician in 15 major cities. This is an increase of 30% since 2014. 

 

While putting your symptoms into a search engine or posting your question onto a social media group may seem like an easy, almost instant way to get medical advice, it can actually be dangerous to your health. 

 

Dr. Cherilyn Cecchini, a Board Certified Pediatrician, said parents need to be wary of inaccurate information online, especially when it comes to medicine.

 

“Using validated websites or tools that board certified physicians are managing or contributing to minimizes the risk of reading incorrect information. Websites that link to academic research articles or evidence based research are more likely to serve as credible sources.” 

 

In other words, many websites are not credible enough to deliver medical advice. Inaccurate advice is just one potential pitfall of looking up your symptoms. Take a look at the top 5 reasons you should only get medical advice from a doctor. 

 

You will cause yourself unnecessary stress

Unnecessary stress is one danger of search medical symptoms online

Source: Canva

No matter what your symptoms are, it seems when it comes to search engines all roads lead to cancer. While it is important to take a proactive approach to your health, searching your symptoms online is not likely an effective way to find a diagnosis. Instead you may be putting your health at risk by inducing stress. 

 

Some stress in your life is normal, even beneficial to your body. However, ongoing chronic stress can affect both your physical and mental health. Even if your symptoms were to actually lead to a cancer diagnosis, new research shows that stress has the ability to make cancer grow and spread. 

 

Don’t work yourself up over your search results. Look for a better solution to access medical information fast and from the comforts of home. 

You Don’t Have the Right Terminology

not having the right terminology is one danger of search medical symptoms online

Source: Canva

 

In order to get the right medical information online, you often need to have a medical background. In a joint study by Microsoft and UC Berkeley test subjects were shown images and videos of several different medical conditions and then asked what search terms they would use to get a diagnosis online. 

 

Based on these search terms the team looked at the results they got from search engines Google and Bing. On average only 4 or 5 of the top 10 results were actually helpful. The other 60% were only ‘somewhat revelant’ or ‘not relevant at all’. 

 

You Will Not Get Accurate Information

getting inaccurate information is one of the dangers of searching your symptoms online

Source: Canva

Looking for medical advice from a search engine or social media group is limited because the person answering you is often not a medical professional. In many cases, it is not a person at all. 

These results cannot consider your personal medical background as well as other factors like age, weight and lifestyle. 

 

A 2007 study found that almost 40 % of medical articles on the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the United States on Wikipedia examined contained ‘critical omissions.’ These critical omissions may be the missing link in determining what is causing your medical concern. 

 

You are Wasting Precious Time

Wasting your time is one of the dangers of searching your symptoms online

Source: Canva

 

Many new parents use social media groups to ask medical information from other parents. These groups can be a wonderful way to share parenting tips and tricks. But asking about medical concerns can often be a waste of time. 

 

While other parents may have had a similar experience, the medical treatment necessary or diagnosis may not be the same. The time spent posting in a group and waiting for responses is not always a good choice. It would likely be better spent speaking to a doctor and starting the appropriate medical interventions. 

 

There is a better solution

 

Luckily there is a better solution for parents who need medical advice. Your Doctors Online connects parents around the world with real North American doctors 24 hours a day. Don’t waste hours sitting in a waiting room with a sick child. Your Doctors Online lets you chat, share pictures and video.  You can even get follow ups with a real doctor no matter what time of the day or night. 

 

“Your Doctors Online is a great way to learn more about a condition, symptoms, diagnosis or treatment since certified physicians compose answers and carefully consider individual details and factors when developing a response,” said Dr. Cecchini.

 

It’s time to take a smarter approach to your healthcare questions. Download our free app and start chatting with a doctor in minutes!

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.

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