Search engines have helped us enormously over the last couple of decades to find the information that we need. When it comes to finding a holiday website or a news article, they’re fantastic, but there’s one area in which they can be a real problem: matters of health.
The problem is that as people, we’re not actually all that good at knowing what’s wrong with us. We don’t have half of the equipment we need to make a self-diagnosis at home, and so we have to guess. This means that we usually get back a bunch of possible diseases, about 50 percent of them could kill us in the next 24 hours. It’s highly panic-inducing and probably makes our health a lot worse.
It Makes Your Hypochondria Worse
The problem with Googling your symptoms is that for practically any symptom there will be somebody on a forum somewhere who has written a post about how it will kill you. And because other people have clicked on the post promising instant death rather than the one suggesting it might be nothing, the instant death post starts rising in the Google ranks. Before long, the only information available about your chesty cough are posts claiming that you’ve got tuberculosis and only have a few weeks to live.
Wikipedia Isn’t Particularly Reliable
If you’re the type of person who likes to skip the junk on forums and just get straight to the good stuff, then you might choose to go on Wikipedia, thinking that it is the best place for reliable information. But despite the fact that the website is the sixth most popular place to get medical information on the web, it’s also very unreliable. The problem is that people often write health articles on Wikipedia with reckless abandon. Most contributors are rank amateurs who don’t really know what they’re saying. Wikipedia has policies and guidelines, but contributors don’t always adhere to them accurately.
Medical misinformation appears on Wikipedia all the time. According to research, about 90 percent of the articles on the top diseases in the Western world weren’t up to date with the latest science.
Googling Your Health Can Cause Anxiety
Googling your health can result in the wrong diagnosis. But more worryingly, it can also leave you worse off than before by making you believe that you are sicker than you are. Medical anxiety is a real thing, and it can be brought on by reading about your supposed condition and coming to extreme conclusions about how your life’s in mortal danger.
So-called “cyberchondriacs” are people who believe everything that the web says about their health without consulting a professional, like an online Dr, first. This information then interferes with their daily lives, leaving them feeling anxious all the time and leading to further health issues.
You Can End Up Losing Money
Googling symptoms can also mean that you end up spending more money at the ER. Always making trips across town, paying medical fees and buying hospital parking tickets can wind up costing a fortune.