Should You Google Your Symptoms?
Like many people, you might turn to Google for medical advice whenever you experience a new symptom. After all, it’s easy, convenient, and free. And, there is some good information out there. However, rather than using the internet to self-diagnose, it’s best to think of online research as an educational starting point.
Most physicians encourage their patients to be informed and engaged, which can ultimately lead to better health care. But, when using online resources, it can be difficult for a patient to distinguish reliable data from inaccurate, unregulated advice (which the internet is fraught with). This means searching online for a diagnosis based on symptoms alone can yield information that is either falsely reassuring or inappropriately alarming. Either way, the result can potentially be dangerous.
If you’re interested in using the internet as a research tool, the physicians at South Tampa Immediate Care offer the following advice on how to make the most of your online searches:
- Before you get started, ask a physician to recommend specific websites that you can use to learn about your health condition. For instance, some medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic, publish high-quality, credible content that is vetted by many experts.
- Before you take any action based on anything you find, verify it with a physician.
- If your research leaves you feeling anxious or upset, make an appointment with a physician so that you can discuss your concerns in person.
When used appropriately, the internet can help your establish a more collaborative relationship with your physician. Of course, the field of medicine is complex – even for those who practice it every day. It is essential for you to trust your physician’s education, training, and experience, as well as his or her personalized advice – for which the internet is no substitute.
If you have questions about something you read online and would like to consult with a physician, you can contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. No appointments are necessary at our walk-in clinic in Tampa, FL.