Self-diagnosis; A Google trend that you shouldn’t follow!

From searching for home remedies to ‘do-it-yourself’ kits, Dr. Google answers every question that you ask and replies to a possible disease profile for every entered symptom into the search box. While online self-diagnosis resources seem like a savior in your moments of confused illness, healthcare professionals see the long term possible dangers in this practice.

With Dr. Google’s 24 X 7 availability and ease of access, can a user’s search queries really be “the doctor” we are looking for? — something we all must ask ourselves. 

While healthcare professionals in India acknowledge the convenience of the internet and sympathize with an individual’s struggle to get the best possible care around them, here are a few dangers of depending solely on the “World Wide Web” for your health education.

Risk of self-diagnosis suggested by the care specialists

1. Unwanted Panic: For some of us, it is as simple as – Existing Symptoms + Internet Research = Chronic illness leading to death. A recent study aimed to profile symptoms related to common influenza infection showed every time a user googled these symptoms there is 44% probability of a fatal diagnosis on the internet. That’s not only scary but also troublesome to the extent of causing clinical anxiety.  

And if you think you are reading too much into the situation and still couldn’t stop further to glimpse into the worst possible scenario, you may not be alone! In fact, Internet searches often contribute to hysteria which can become a serious detriment to mental & physical health before visiting a doctor. 

Although it’s obvious to worry about the worst possible outcomes and surf the internet for more and more information, a panic state will do more harm than good for the patient.

2. Unreliable sources: It doesn’t require legit credentials to add your ‘two cents’ online. Also, the way it’s has been easy in this ‘social media dominated world’, considering that there is at least one false piece of information against a fact. Even if you are referring to a reliable source (Government websites/healthcare facilities or organizations), the information could be very general. Moreover, each patient has different risk factors and varying treatment & social history, all of which contributes to the decision-making process of a physician. 

Hence, consulting a trained medical professional provides you with expert care instead of playing ‘doctor-doctor’ at home. 

3. It’s nothing ‘serious’ chalances: Sometimes, when you are googling symptoms, you find information suggesting your chronic headache and cough are merely symptoms of the common cold. This could lead to waiting months for a symptom to subside and can further delay the optimum care you need. Pushing you more and more towards a deteriorated state. 

Isn’t it ironic that the WWW of “we know it all” can push patients into believing that their headache is a brain tumor when it isn’t & a haemorrhage can be diagnosed as a headache due to acidity?

4. Distrust in doctor’s diagnosis:  Human beings are known to be psychologically hung on what they believe to be true; even in the face of an expert’s opinion. Being obsessive about the findings of your symptoms on the internet can even enable you to resist the professional diagnosis, furthermore, rejecting the treatment plan. 

Though it may not always come to these extremes, however, even some disbelief can cause unnecessary visits to seek second opinions resulting in increased medical expenses. 

According to the patients – Understanding the perils of self-diagnosis is one thing and getting past the convenience of accessing information at your fingertips is another! Moreover, nobody wants to take an in-person appointment and sit in a waiting area! 

For such patients, Telemedicine could work wonders and encourage medicos to take care of their patients via homecare modules. Similarly, self-test kits have also become so popular that patients at times assume they are enough for confirming the illness (clearly, not everyone is aware of the false positives).  

Self-test kits may give you temporary assurance, but a real doctor consultation is way better!

Do-it-yourself diagnostic kits are gaining popularity more than ever with an equal push from online and retail market players. These kits which claim to diagnose everything from Cancer to Alzheimer’s disease are generally delivered with ‘caution while using’ disclaimer. Even several healthcare organizations claim that they can be unreliable, inadequate and are no substitute for a diagnosis by a healthcare professional. Moreover, even if the self-test kit is reliable, the person might use the test incorrectly causing further misinterpretation of the results.  

Therefore, if you are concluding your health on the basis of a 5 min test, it’s better to keep a physician in the loop. And what’s the best way to get an online telemedicine consultation with the doctor of your choice.

Self-diagnosis makes users essentially assume that they know the subtleties that diagnosis constitutes. In such a condition, they may end up planning the ‘perfect’ course of action at home.  There is a greater chance that a patient would neglect the disease if the symptoms seem harmless at the moment.

If you think self-diagnosis won’t push you to self-medicate instead of going to a real doctor; think again!  

Prominent side effects & dangers of “Self Medication” & diagnosis by Dr. Internet –

  • Delays in seeking appropriate medical advice and proper treatment.
  • Potential adverse reactions.
  • Worsening of the health condition 
  • Dangerous drug interaction.
  • Risk of dependence and abuse.

HArbor Says: Our Health is the key element for a happy life and if our medical care is in question — better to be assured and not regret it later. Virtual healthcare delivery modules can help to resolve the ill effects of self-diagnosis. Where it will enable care practitioners to consult patients, analyze their symptoms and supervise drug oversight without getting into the burden of in-patient visits. At the same time, since the doctor is just a virtual appointment away, seeking professional care is convenient and way better than guessing the illness on internet research.   

4 thoughts on “Self-diagnosis; A Google trend that you shouldn’t follow!”

  1. It is true that for any given medical conditions, and being aware about the niche technology like Google we usually tends to search every possible thing we can get online. It is not only limited to health but it has widespreaded among our everyday doings. In the end it lacks the human touch and experience which medical professionals gains over the period of education and practice. The online diagnosis is most likely to give false information which can make anyone go paranoid about one’s health. It is also been said that incomplete knowledge is worse than no knowledge at all. Reading all the possible diagnosis for simple headache can make you go frantic and you can get additional medical condition of anxiety by searching treatment for existing condition. It is just an oxymoron. Telemedicine is bringing revolution in medical field because of its accessibility and reliability; However it needs more awareness and cost effectiveness to become a replacement to Dr. Google.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I disagree. As a doctor myself I have used Dr Google a lot for myself and my patients. Maybe I know what I’m looking for in between useless stuff. It has changed medicine. Patients and doctors have access to the most reliable and up to date information. It is particularly useful for unusual presentations or diagnoses that are not “in the box”. Also, in the NHS medical access is highly limited and secondary care is rationed.

    Liked by 1 person

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