What the F**k is Wrong with You?: The problem with Self-Diagnosing

How Googling symptoms can lead to unexpected problems

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A lot of people often use online sources to find out what their problems are.  Hell, even I have done web searches to find out some illnesses I’ve had.  The problem with doing this is that you probably are not a doctor (unless you actually are a doctor of medicine, in which I shall shut the fuck up and let you do your job).  Using the symptom checkers can often lead to conclusions that are not quite logical for the situation.

For example, let’s say you ate a whole can of beans for some reason.  Hours later, you have a belly ache.  There is some pain in your abdomen, so you look up the symptoms.  It’s a sharp, moderately severe pain with a feeling of fullness.  Using the symptom checker, this person can have issues that are relatively severe, including diverticulitis (sacks that develop in the colon which then get filled with bacteria and poo), dermatomyositis (rare disease which causes muscle pain, weakness, and blotchy patches), or, quite simply, gas pains.

While it is important to monitor your health, sometimes a doctor is not needed.  If you are just farting a lot due to eating a whole lot of beans, there probably is not much a doctor can recommend, save for some anti-gas medications that you can get over the counter.  In more severe cases, like if you wound up having some blotchy patches in addition to the pain, then yeah, maybe see a doctor.

Looking up symptoms can also lead to hypochondriasis like conditions, and I know I have fallen into such trap.   An example is thinking the slight discomfort from eating the beans is a sign of severe gastrointestinal cancer.  Thinking the most severe situation after a short duration of time can lead to unnecessary doctor visits, which can add up financially when insurance gets involved.

Now, I am not saying to forgo going to the doctor for ailments, I am simply saying to be smart with it.  If the pain came from eating a whole can of beans, or if you have a sore, runny nose and it’s cold season, then it probably is not a severe gastrointestinal issue, or even nasal polyps.

So what do you guys think?  Has online symptom checkers helped find diseases you never knew you had, or did it lead to a trip to the doctor that was not needed?

 

Author: The Nutrition Punk

Some snarky college student at Oregon State University studying nutrition. Listens to too much rock, heavy metal and other loud music. My goal is to have a place to eliminate some misinformation about nutrition while trying to be funny about it. Note: I am not a doctor, so any advise on this site is not meant to be taken as medical advice.

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