A few clicks here and there opens doors to a wealth of information. That is the power of the World Wide Web. Practically anything and everything you need to know can easily be found online. Almost, that is.
While the Internet offers tons of information, there are some answers you simply cannot find online, among which are the answers to your most pressing health concerns. Rather than search your symptoms online, consider visiting your healthcare practitioner, instead. Get that ultrasound scan if that’s what your doctor recommends. It’s better to know the real status of your health than to rely on what Google thinks you have.
The risks of self-diagnosis
To say that self-diagnosis is dangerous and potentially life-threatening is not an exaggeration. There are several risks associated with medical self-diagnosis so you should always be on your guard:
Risk #1: Misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis poses a serious threat to the lives of patients. Here’s an example:
At face value, neither fever nor sore throat seems like a big deal. You might simply have an infection which manifests itself through the symptoms mentioned. It doesn’t take much to get rid of a fever and a sore throat. Also, tons of natural remedies can help make your body temperature go back to normal while clearing your throat. If you’re not a fan of home remedies, you can also opt for over-the-counter medicines. These medicines are effective and relatively cheap. But consider this: what if your fever and cough are underlying symptoms of more severe illness?
In this case, you might never know unless you visit your doctor, get into a discussion about your medical history, and take the tests he recommends.
Risk #2: Wrong treatment
Some people unknowingly subject themselves to the wrong treatment. Given that you had the wrong diagnosis, most likely, you will also end up using the wrong medication and treatment option.
Another possibility is that you might decide to skip the treatment altogether. If you look up your symptoms and misdiagnose yourself, chances are, you might choose not to take any medication at all.
Then there’s also the danger of resorting to self-help techniques. Say you were suffering from anxiety. If you were misdiagnosed and went for self-help techniques instead of reaching out to professionals, chances are, your stress will get worse. This problem was mentioned in an article published in the news-medical.net. Instead of receiving the correct diagnosis and the proper treatment, some patients resort to self-help techniques and end up making their condition worse.
Risk #3: Spreading infections
You could potentially pass on your illness to another person. As we know, some infections are highly contagious. There are even those that are easily transmitted through the air. If you have that kind of infection and you didn’t follow the correct health protocols, you can quickly spread the virus and make the people around you sick.
Online health check pointers
It might be challenging to keep yourself from reading up on your symptoms online. If you must do this, here are some essential ideas that might help make medical research a little easier for you:
- If you must read about your condition online, make sure to refer to multiple sources. According to the Henry Ford Live Well website, this is a quick and effective way to gather credible information.
- Think twice before reading the articles at the top of your search results. Most likely, these resources are paid materials and commissioned content that was put there to serve a different purpose.
- Check out resources offered by your hospital or healthcare provider to get more information about health conditions that might reflect your symptoms.
- Aside from your local hospital or healthcare provider, you may also seek out information from government websites, non-profit organisations, and other reliable sources of information.
- If you want to get specific information about a particular disorder, you may refer to specialty organisations that focus on these disorders. That will help you gain more insight into your health condition, assuming that you were already diagnosed by your healthcare professional.
- Always check for biased articles and subjective content. Keep in mind that some may only be posting health-related content to further their commercial interests, instead of education readers.
- You may use the Internet to read up on medications and treatment options prescribed by your doctor. However, you must be careful not to self-medicate or change the terms of your medicine based on your research.
Obtaining health information online should only supplement what you and your doctor have already discussed. To keep yourself healthy and well, remember to get checked regularly, especially if your family has a history of genetic disorders.