Attention internet junkies: Doctor Google is not the best

  • Dr Anurupa Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 10, 2014 21:26 IST

Getting an appointment within a short notice is tough and getting to search for the best doctor available in a few hours is tougher, but a sea of information about health and diseases is now a click away.

From news to health, media to communication- we are getting dependent on internet with each passing hour. And when it comes to health, it's all about getting to know about the condition at the earliest, surpassing the waiting time for appointments or laboratory tests.

Also read: Self-medication can be harmful

One important aspect which most of us don't know is that the evolution of Google have also lead to the emergence of the cyberchondriacs; people who are terrified about serious diseases related to their condition. But diagnosis through google can be fatal. Let's see how!

False positive diagnosis: You start feeling sick and you immediately google. Many results pop up on your screen depending on the key words like tumor in the brain for muscle weakness or cancer of stomach for bloating. Before you can reach out to your GP, you already start feeling sick. Well, this does not happen to all. Cyberchondriacs tend to pick the worst diagnosis and are more likely to feel scared and worried. And even if the GP rules out the worst, they still tend to go through more tests to be doubly sure.

False negative diagnosis: For few, that stomach pain and bloating might be the indication of something life threatening but google showed indigestion as well. Before you read further and think about different possible causes, you get too happy over your diagnosis. By the time it becomes severe for you to visit a GP, your condition has already worsened.

Also read: Self-medication will undermine your immune system

Self-diagnosis and prescription: Almost all nearby pharmacies are closed and you are searching for a medicine for your lower back pain. You google it and find one. After seven weeks, you feel severely sick. You wonder what's wrong. Well, Google did not tell you that the medicine you took reacted in a bad way with the other medicines or you were simply allergic to it. On rare occasions you might just end up taking higher dosages of the medicine.

Cyberquakery: Unless one is aware of real information, it is tough for you to decide which site is providing correct information and which is not. Moreover, wide range of discussion forum is individualistic and depends on a person's experience which may be very different from yours.

Stress generation: Often Google throws up serious diseases for minor symptoms and patients end up spending their days till the next appointment with doctor under severe stress. It is often found that woman consult doctor Google more than man and fall prey to diseases they don't have.

Google rely on the key words you type and that symptom could be from a minor to major disease which should be related with physical and laboratory tests. It is always advisable to visit a doctor and if at all you need to search it online, rely on sites that are authorized to guide you online.

also read

Watch, learn, do: Fusion yoga made easy
Show comments