Dr. Google & You
There’s no doubt that technology has its benefits when it comes to managing health. We have more access to doctors, the possibility of Skype consultations, and can chat with fellow sufferers to learn about management techniques for various conditions. The overwhelming conclusion, then, is that tech + health = good things.
There is an exception though: Dr. Google.
What On Earth Is Dr. Google?
Dr. Google is a friendly term that people use for consulting their health conditions and symptoms online. You technically consult with Dr. Google every time you search for information on health. This could be to look for new information about symptoms you are experiencing, or for guidance on how to cope with chronic issues.
There’s no actual Dr. Google– which is probably a good thing. Given the havoc and grief Dr. Google has caused over the years, he’d have been struck off long before now if he did exist!
How Can Looking For Information Be A Bad Thing?
For one thing, over-consultation of Dr. Google has lead to a rise in health anxiety. This is a life-altering anxiety disorder that can be difficult to overcome, and anyone can fall prey to it.
That aside, the main issue with searching for health information online is that what you find is completely without subjectivity. Instead, it’s blanket information. If you were to search for even the most benign of symptoms, somewhere on the internet there is a page linking that symptom to cancer. Your mind is going to focus on all of those inevitably horrific diagnoses, causing unnecessary worry and advice.
The final issue is that you may find advice online that is outright wrong. Anyone can publish a webpage, after all. So you could experiment with treatments that are not only ineffective, but potentially even outright dangerous.
Why Shouldn’t I Follow Advice I Find Online?
There’s a reason there are medical professionals in this world, all with different specialties from a dentist to a physiotherapist. It’s because the human body, and the things that can go wrong with it, are incredibly complex. If you need medical help, then you need the help of someone who truly understands what is happening to you.
It might be tempting to think that you can remove a sore tooth for yourself (there’s plenty of videos online of people daft enough to try just that). However, you’d soon discover, any treatment you attempt to try and rectify a dental emergency can be frustrating and painful unless done by a professional. If you watch a YouTube video and decide to try out a few intensive exercises, you’ll soon realize that a physiotherapist would have been better able to guide you through what you should and should not attempt. These professionals exist because not only do they know what to do, but because they know how to do it. You might be able to garner an idea of what you need through online research, but there will never be a video online detailed enough to truly explain the how.
What If I Don’t Want To Trouble My Doctor For Every Problem?
Of course, this is one of the reasons so many people turn to Dr. Google; it’s quick, simple, and doesn’t require you to traipse to see a doctor. However, if you’re concerned enough to want to search for more information, you should take that as a sign that perhaps your issue is something you really do need to talk to a doctor about.
The simple truth is that by Googling for health information, the chances are you will have to consult your doctor anyway. Dr. Google could diagnose even the healthiest of people as having some terrible ailment. So why not cut out the middleman and just take your health concerns straight to a trained professional, who is more capable of accurately analyzing your symptoms and how they relate to your overall health?
What Are My Alternatives?
There are plenty of health forums where you can talk to people rather than just typing your symptoms into Google. This allows for a human response, which can be more empathetic and accurate than just basic pages like those on WebMD. You still might hear scare stories on a forum, but they will likely be countered by other more positive readings of your situation.
So, for the most part, avoiding any diagnosis courtesy of Dr. Google is actually better for your health. If you’re concerned about an ailment, it’s better to seek the opinion of an actual doctor– and save you from terrorizing yourself online.
Image Credit: Google