WikiHealth: Dos & Don’ts of Using the Internet to Self Diagnose

By Cody Frank

Do you internet doctor yourself?

You get a weird rash or bump. You have a cough that won’t seem to go away. You have a symptom that you don’t want anyone to know about in a place that it shouldn’t happen… Who do you ask? Some of you will call your parents or ask a friend. The majority of you will go directly to your smartphone or laptop and get on the internet.

You have to admit, in this day and age….we’ve all done it at least once. Typed out our symptoms into a search engine and been instantly mortified by the results. I convinced myself for a second that I was bitten by a brown recluse spider that would leave gaping open wounds or that I had whooping cough when I internet doctored myself. There were also times I convinced myself I had nothing after using the internet. I thought I had a nasty pimple but it ended up being a MRSA staph infection.images-1

Yes, I agree go ahead and use technology but be smart about it. Don’t just click the first few links/images you see and assume it’s an automatic diagnosis. Remember the internet and you are not a doctor. I am not a doctor either. The links on google or bing or (insert name) search engine you use are NOT in order of the best answer or the correct answer. It is in order by how much someone pays/bids to have their website be at the top of the list. Marketing companies know that people will pay to have their website get the most hits. Companies know that people are generally lazy and will click the first few links, instead of searching or writing out more complete statements. In addition, remember Wikipedia is not always a reliable source. It is a source that can be edited by anyone at anytime. It makes it brilliant but it also makes it flawed.

When looking for helpful advice:

  1. Double check that your symptoms are not just in your head. (This sounds silly, but we can freak ourselves out about nothing at times).
  2. When clicking on links, check to see these are verified sources by accredited doctors or nurses or health organizations. I know this can be difficult but it never hurts to check your sources. It just takes a couple more clicks.
  3. Don’t assume the worst, the internet can’t ask you all the questions or physically see the problem you have. That’s why there are doctors because they can evaluate and critically solve any other factors that could determine what is going on.
Photo Via Element14

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