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If you search for symptoms online when sick, you might be suffering from ‘Google Syndrome’

‘Google Syndrome’ is the tendency among patients to do vigorous Internet research in an effort to self-diagnose medical problems they may be suffering from.

pune Updated: Nov 28, 2017 14:57 IST
Jui Dharwadkar
Jui Dharwadkar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Google syndrome,ailment,sick
A number of city doctors told Hindustan Times that Google Syndrome is driving people towards self-diagnosing themselves, creating rising anxiety among patients and also affecting the trust between doctors and patients. (HT FILE PHOTO)

If you are experiencing certain symptoms and suffering from ailments, it is best not to jump to conclusions based on information gathered through the Internet.

Doctors have said that many times severe headache gets associated with tumor; fast heart beat rate and pain in the chest is associated with serious heart problems while there is a fear of suffering from various types of cancers in patients.‘Google Syndrome’ is the tendency among patients to do vigorous Internet research in an effort to self-diagnose medical problems they may be suffering from.

A number of city doctors told Hindustan Times that Google Syndrome is driving people towards self-diagnosing themselves, creating rising anxiety among patients and also affecting the trust between doctors and patients.

In an effort to understand more about the cause of their symptoms through Internet searching, patients assume that they are suffering from a serious disease which is often not the case, say doctors. They have, hence, cautioned that self-diagnosis through Internet might be misleading for patients.

Consulting physician, Dr Prachee Sathe, said, “Self-diagnosis by patients is definitely increasing and it is not a very good sign. It should be understood that answers obtained by searching symptoms on the Internet cannot be accurate.”

She added that this increasing self-diagnosis by patients is resulting in doctors spending more time in correcting the misconceptions of patients. Sathe emphasised that sometimes relatives of patients analyse the treatment methods based on what they have read on the Internet. This can delay the treatment of patients, she added.

Consultant psychiatrist at the Columbia Asia Hospital, Sayathani Mukherjee too shared similar views.

She said, “It should be understood that diagnosis by a doctor cannot be replaced by the Internet. The results shown through an Internet search are not done by analysing the case and hence, cannot be trusted.”

Mukherjee added that the Google syndrome is yet to be classified as a medical condition and there is no comprehensive study done on this topic.

“The penetration of Internet is definitely making people search for everything online. With this, patients too have increasingly started self-diagnosis which is resulting in increasing their anxiety levels and also hampering the trust that needs to be present between a patient and a doctor,” she added.

Dr Somnath Salgar from the Sassoon General Hospital said that most people go for self-diagnosis and self-medication by searching on the Internet. “Without physical examination and lab diagnosis, medical examination is incomplete. Information obtained from the Internet can be confusing and incomplete. Hence, patients must not trust the Internet for the cause of their symptoms and visiting the doctor is the only correct solution,” he added.

First Published: Nov 28, 2017 14:56 IST