It’s not unusual for people to avoid the doctor out of fear. Unfortunately, it’s just as common for people to jump on the Internet and attempt to diagnose themselves. While your doctor has years of medical training, you and Google do not. There are several risks involved with
becoming an Internet doctor that should far outweigh your fear of the doctor. Here are just five reasons to avoid self-diagnosis:
Have you seen the commercial with the French model? We laugh at the girl who says that they can’t put it on the Internet if it’s not true. Anyone can put anything on the Internet and, unfortunately, it’s no laughing matter. Just because you run across a site that says it’s been written by a doctor doesn’t make it so. There are over 600 million websites that currently call the Internet home, and not all of them are reliable. Any person with computer access can create a website, and any person can speak with authority.
If you have a headache, a sore throat and chills, what do you have? According to WebMD, a trusted resource, you can have any one of 134 conditions. These conditions range from mild sinusitis to Multiple Sclerosis. Once you realize this, you can see how dangerous it is to attempt to diagnose yourself online. The danger goes both ways: You may under- or over-diagnose yourself. When Lyme disease is masking itself as heartburn, avoiding the doctor because of what you’ve read can have very serious consequences.
Speaking of the consequences, there are thousands of people each year that turn to their computers and misdiagnose themselves. It’s not unusual for people to misdiagnose their heart attack symptoms for something as simple as indigestion. By the time these people figure out that their condition is much more serious, it is often too late. It’s difficult to come up with accurate figures of people who have died because they misdiagnosed themselves; they aren’t here to tell us what they read online that caused them to mistreat their symptoms.
Did you know that misdiagnosing yourself can have psychological effects? People with a common cold may make their symptoms worse, simply because they believe that they have pneumonia. Think of how stressed out you would be if you self-diagnosed a headache as a brain tumor. Sleepless nights, poor eating habits and too much coffee will only make your headache worse. Once your symptoms are aggravated, it will be easier than ever to convince yourself that you’re dying; it’s a vicious circle.
5.Fear is Not Reality
For most people, their fear of the doctor is worse than the actual appointment. We build things up in our minds to the point of exaggerating reality. If you are avoiding the doctor because you’re too afraid to go, it’s time to get over your worries. The 20 minutes that you spend in the doctor’s office will be far more beneficial than the two hours you spend scouring the Internet.
While there’s nothing wrong with researching your symptoms online, there is a definite problem with using the Internet as your personal physician. Diagnosing yourself is not only risky, it could be deadly. The next time you get sick, make an appointment with your doctor or head to urgent care; Dr. Google can’t help you.