Years ago, paging through a medical journal was the seed of discontent for many as far as their health was concerned, and for hypochondriacs, the physical manifestation of whatever ailment they were reading about took place within minutes of reading about it. Nowadays, Google replaces these medical journals and searches for serious medical conditions are on the rise and from 2015 to 2018, the
the number of searches in the UK alone saw an 8,781 percent increase. For those used to traversing the hospital halls, this search functionality might come in quite useful. For others, caution is advised.

Get Your Advice From A Trusted Source

When it comes to health, there are a number of warning signs to look out for when navigating a website that provides information on medical conditions. Some of the sites are merely generalist sites that scrape together information already available on the internet to provide their readers with useful content. One of the fastest ways to find out whether a site has legitimate medical information on it is by checking the credentials of the writer or editor. Doctors and specialists often provide useful information, but studies, peer reviews, and articles aren’t always right.

Avoid Health Anxiety

Once you feel the need to search symptom, it’s probably already reached a level that you’re no longer comfortable. One of the unfortunate by-products of searching for conditions online is something called health anxiety. This is where patients search a term and the result is far more serious than the underlying condition. It’s not uncommon for patients to think that indigestion is suddenly a heart condition, or similar. It’s also important to search a term that is as basic to the condition or symptom as possible, such as “knee pain”. This will provide an unfiltered source list to choose from, whereas guessing a condition could result in a biased result, for instance, “knee pain bruised ligament”. There is already enough uncertainty when it comes to health, and guessing a condition shouldn’t have to be one of them.

The Unfortunate Result Of Hypochondria

One of the biggest contributors to useless trips to the ER, is the increase in hypochondria. This is where people misdiagnose themselves and waste both time and money consulting doctors and rushing to the ER without due cause. Commonly referred to as cyberchondria, patients should leave the diagnoses of their conditions to the experts as the use of specialists and ER could leave them out of pocket fast. Billions of pounds that could have been used towards other expenses are now trickling into this category.

For patients, the rule of thumb is to monitor conditions and to use their discretion when searching for their condition. The unfortunate thing about the internet is that anyone can post online, making it critical for users to verify the source of the information.

Author: Sandy Kenrick

Sandy Kenrick swapped a fast-paced career as business banker for the insurance industry. Long hours and a new family quickly led her to look beyond the world of finance. As a work from home mom, Sandy now gets to do what she loves. Much of her work still involves finance and business, but when that mid-afternoon sun swings around it’s time to switch off the laptop, pour a glass of wine, and enjoy her growing family.