Tag Archives: cyberchondria

Get A Second Opinion After Seeing Dr Google

I wasn’t too surprised reading the other day that health-related matters take up 2% of all queries on internet search engines. In fact, I thought the figure would be higher, judging from day-to-day conversations with patients.

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Reading too many Health web-sites may lead to one imagining having various dire diseases, resulting in cyberchondria.

The big question of course is: how reliable are the facts dished out on the Internet? Obviously, its important that these websites are reliable and churn out accurate information. Even so, healthcare information is complicated by a few other factors not related to the reliability of these websites, as explained later.

How do you identify reliable websites? First of all, as a yardstick, websites sponsored by the governments, not-for-profit health or medical organizations, and university medical centers are the most reliable resources on the Internet.  Sites supported by for-profit drug companies, for instance, who may be trying to sell you their products, are usually not your best option. Also note that medical info changes rapidly with time and a look at the dateline of the article is important. Here are a few such sites:

Medlineplus.gov sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and managed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus provides information on more than 900 diseases and conditions in their “Health Topics” section, and links to other trusted resources.

medlineplus

WebMD  provides a wealth of health information and tools for managing your health from an award-winning website, which is continuously reviewed for accuracy and timeliness.

webMD

MayoClinic.com – owned by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, this site is produced by more than 3,300 physicians, scientists and researchers from Mayo Clinic, and provides in-depth, easy-to-understand information on hundreds of diseases and conditions, drugs and supplements, tests and procedures.

mayoclinic

Sometimes,even with reliable trustworthy information, its rather difficult for the untrained public to give due weightage  to the complex info that is being bombarded onto them.  For instance, when reading the side-effects of a particular medication, it is difficult to appreciate that not all the listed side-effects will invariably occur when one consumes the drug.

This is why its better to consult a doctor to obtain clarification. It takes years of medical training to adequately decipher fully what’s found on  web health-sites and to fully appreciate its implications.

In fact, the over-reliance of info on the internet has given rise to a new condition called cyberchondria (aka internet self-diagnosis) – this refers to the practice of leaping to dire conclusions while researching health matters online. If that severe headache haunting you in the morning led you to the Web search-engine and a search on ‘headaches’  led to ‘brain tumours’ or ‘meningitis’,  people tend to look at the first few results in the search-engine which forms the basis for them to probe further till they are convinced  that they have a brain tumour. The likely diagnosis is probably cyberchondria than anything else!   The phenomenon has become so pervasive that Microsoft did its own study on the causes of cyberchondria way back in 2008.

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Internet Diseases


When it comes to the most-searched  topic for Web queries,  there’s no doubt that sex tops the list; next comes health-related matters which take up some 2% of all queries on the search engines. Its not surprising therefore  that there are a variety of internet-related ailments that can arise from reading too much about health matters on the Internet!

Internet addiction has been around for years. How do you know if you’re already addicted or rapidly tumbling toward trouble? Take this Internet Addiction Test here.

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Cyberchondria (aka internet self-diagnosis) is another condition first coined in 2000 and refers to  the practice of leaping to dire conclusions while researching health matters online. If that severe headache haunting you in the morning led you to the Web search-engine and convinced you that it is caused by a brain tumour, then the likely diagnosis is probably cyberchondria. People tend to look at the first few results in the search-engine and that froms the basis for them to probe further. For instance, a search on ‘headaches’ could lead to ‘brain tumours’ or ‘meningitis’. The phenomenon has become so pervasive that Microsoft did its own study on the causes of cyberchondria (see here).

Thanks to search engines like Google,many are turning to the Internet for answers to their health issues. New research has revealed four in five Australians are turning to the web for health information and nearly half of those are using Dr Google to make a self-diagnosis.

Leading GPs say people are presenting to the doctor with fears of major health issues when the real problem is minor, while others put off going to their GPs because they believe their issue is not serious.

My advice? While its good for people to know what’s going on in their body, make sure you look at reputable sites only and even then, look at them after your doctor has told you what you have (this will give you a reasonable launching pad to look at other likely possibilities- what doctors call differential diagnoses). One should not scour the internet on the basis of a collection of symptoms only. If there’s one thing the search engines do not have, its the capability of good old human judgement!

Internet Diseases – Do You Have It?

Health-related matters take up 2% of all queries on the search engines,  so its not surprising that there are a variety of internet-related ailments that can result out of accessing health web-sites! (No prizes for guessing the most common topic on search engines on the Net).

Here’s the low-down on  the most common internet-caused afflictions:

Internet addiction has been around for years. How do you know if you’re already addicted or rapidly tumbling toward trouble? Take this Internet Addiction Test here.

Cyberchondria (aka internet self-diagnosis) is another condition first coined in 2000 and refers to  the practice of leaping to dire conclusions while researching health matters online. If that severe headache haunting you in the morning led you to the Web search-engine and convinced you that it is caused by a brain tumour, then the likely diagnosis is probably cyberchondria. People tend to look at the first few results in the search-engine and that froms the basis for them to probe further. For instance, a search on ‘headaches’ could lead to ‘brain tumours’ or ‘meningitis’. The phenomenon has become so pervasive that Microsoft did its own study on the causes of cyberchondria (see here).

Reading Health web-sites may lead to one imagining having various dire diseases!

 

Here’s some friendly advice: It takes years of medical training to adequately decipher fully what’s found on  web health-sites and to full appreciate its implications. While its good for people to know what’s going on in their body, make sure you look at reputable sites only and even then, look at them after your doctor has told you what you have .This will give you a reasonable launching pad to look at the likely possibilities of what condition you may have ( what doctors call differential diagnoses).

Diseases of the Internet

When it comes to the most-searched  topic for Web queries,  there’s no doubt that sex tops the list; but, bearing in mind that health-related matters take up 2% of all queries on the search engines, its not surprising that there are a variety of internet-related ailments that can result out of this!

Internet addiction has been around for years. How do you know if you’re already addicted or rapidly tumbling toward trouble? Take this Internet Addiction Test here.

A40X1P

Cyberchondria - aggravated by Self-diagnosis Web-sites which have 90% of the diagnoses where patients die within one week!

Cyberchondria (aka internet self-diagnosis) is another condition first coined in 2000 and refers to  the practice of leaping to dire conclusions while researching health matters online. If that severe headache haunting you in the morning led you to the Web search-engine and convinced you that it is caused by a brain tumour, then the likely diagnosis is probably cyberchondria. People tend to look at the first few results in the search-engine and that froms the basis for them to probe further. For instance, a search on ‘headaches’ could lead to ‘brain tumours’ or ‘meningitis’. The phenomenon has become so pervasive that Microsoft did its own study on the causes of cyberchondria (see here).

My advice? While its good for people to know what’s going on in their body, make sure you look at reputable sites only and even then, look at them after your doctor has told you what you have (this will give you a reasonable launching pad to look at other likely possibilities- what doctors call differential diagnoses).

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