When it comes to diagnosing health problems, there is a new condition that people may suffer from. When we self-diagnose symptoms we can endanger ourselves more than we know.
Cyberchondria is a condition where people have a tendency to do a self-diagnosis of their health problems online which produce stress and anxiety. This term was used to describe this condition in the early 2000’s. The internet has spread far and wide which has led to more people having cyberchondria.
If you are among those who are addicted to research your health problems online and become anxious about the results you are a part of a growing number of internet users who have this condition.
A Pew Research study shows that 35% of Americans go online to diagnose their health issues. Websites like Mayo Clinic, WebMD and Healthline are common sources of information regarding health problems.
Doing this self-diagnosis on the internet poses some problems that users should know about. For example, you type in a word like “colds” a whole lot of results come up which may give different information. When you use WebMD symptom checker, there are more than 2,995 results for the word “cough” alone. This is based on how severe the condition which may range from the common cold to lung cancer. This is the big problem with an online diagnosis, you could be led to believe that you have a critical illness when in reality you are not afflicted at all.
Search engines operate according to certain guidelines and algorithms. Pages appear on top of rankings based on different factors. There is a tendency for more critical illnesses to appear on the top of search engine results. This may cause confusion because a simple keyword like a headache may give you a result like a brain tumor or cancer. Those who are not familiar with how search engines rank websites may be led to believe in search results and be stressed out because of this.
There is a lot of information that can be accessed from the internet. More and more people are getting connected using their mobile phones. Health is one of the more common topics that users search for on the internet. Cyberchondria can be controlled. Some experts have suggested that experts make an online diagnosis but this could be difficult because there are diseases that need a lab and physical tests to diagnose.
Health information online is not all that bad. There is a lot of great and beneficial information that has helped a lot of people regain their health. Internet and technology have made information readily available you just need to be vigilant in choosing the sources of information that you search for. There are trusted and credible websites that can help us get the right information.
There seems to be a high trust rating when it comes to online searches, a study from Wolters Kluwer Health shows that 63% of people who searched the internet for information believe that they never made a wrong diagnosis about themselves through online searches. They feel like they always get the right information and they can trust the search results that they performed on the internet. The bigger problem is that only half of the people who do self-diagnosis through online searches talk to their doctor about what they have discovered. The danger here is when they act upon their self-diagnosis without doing the proper consultation and tests at the hospital.
Nothing beats a formal diagnosis. Go to your doctor, answer all questions and perform all lab and physical tests necessary in order to come up with a proper diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis will lead to proper treatment and a higher chance of being cured.